(Actually third, if you count The Land Far-and-a-Half Away, which I don't...)
This new one is actually shorter than the novella about Saturday's Warrior that I'm currently serializing, but I'm calling it a novel instead of novella because it's a stand-alone work instead of being part of a series. It's just a really short novel (nine chapters, a little over 15,000 words).
To give credit where credit is due, this new piece was partially inspired by a clever article on writing a novel by Robinson Wells. (He probably wasn't hoping to support the exmo arts, but these things happen when you post stuff to the Internet... ;^) )
The whole article is kind of funny-because-it's-so-true, but the specific part that helped me is the following:
A boring setting is perfectly acceptable in novel writing. While the word “boring” might be considered pejorative, there are certain books that actually require boring settings. I’m speaking specifically of literary novels. These are books wherein kids die of wasting diseases, and they’re books that win national awards.
The absence of anything interesting in the setting is done purposefully; the general atmosphere of these books screams of despondence and depression, and such things simply can’t exist in an interesting setting. Imagine Summer of the Swans taking place in Narnia, or Angela’s Ashes including a chase scene on top of Mt. Rushmore. If something like that happened, readers might actually want to read these books, and then where would we be?
I read that and thought: "He's right, you know. I need to stop writing stories set in Utah. I should write a story set in an exotic foreign country..."
But you writers out there probably already know the problem with setting a story in an exotic foreign country: Lots of boring research. Then you still get the details wrong.
So I decided to go with inventing an exotic foreign country. That way if it's convenient for the story that my new country have some peculiar custom like wearing pancakes on their heads or somthing, it's not "wrong" it's just "making your invented country a little more colorful." (p.s. I didn't use the pancake idea myself, so feel free to steal it for your own novel.)
So in a nutshell, my new novel has all of the character-driven relationship intrigues of any segment of Exmormon, but minus the angst-filled contemplation of religion, and for the underlying situation I've dumped the boring reality and replaced it with amusing fantasy. Oh and I did throw in a few Mormons because -- let's face it -- Mormons are funny.
I'm thinking of trying to find an agent for this one, but since that is an annoying, painful, and time-consuming task, I'm putting it off for now. I might start by looking for test-readers, we'll see...