year in review

2016 Accountability Post

Is the annual accountability post a useful exercise, particularly in an essentially creative endeavor? I’m not entirely certain, but it does provide a milestone (not millstone!) and reminder of sorts about whatever path I’m on. With that in mind, let’s review what my intentions were for 2016 before the reality of time constraints, the whims of imagination, and a ceaseless slog of negative news took their toll…

  • Put the icing on the Symphony cake. I wrapped up my historical fantasy series, The Dreambetween Symphony, in 2015, but I wanted to package the series as an omnibus box set / compilation / what-have-you. Status? Mission Accomplished!
  • Revise and publish The Pike. While the initial drafting phase for my latest novel was complete in late 2015, it still required heavy editing. Also, I wasn’t sure whether to publish the book under a pen name given that it didn’t quite fit, genre-wise, with much of my previous output. Status? Published, June 2016.
  • Begin a new series. Status? Fail! I was in the planning stages for a series tentatively titled Gunmage. Expanding upon my short story Lamia’s Daughter, this alternate-world western with demons, fey magic, and gunslingers is still in the planning stages and has been pushed behind other projects in the queue.

Which brings us to 2017. What tentative goalposts do I put up and then pull a Charlie Brown trying to boot the ball through?

  • Publish a new novel. The first draft of my next novel is complete, and I’m currently muddling through the first round of edits. Tentatively titled Zeitgeist 1919, this book is a beast, currently weighing in at almost double the page-count of my previous longest novel, Requiem. Zeitgeist tells the story of a reimagined aftermath/extension to World War I, where Kaiser Wilhelm II, aided by the sorcery and genetic monstrosities of his hexenmeister warlocks, invades the United States and faces the might of American technomancy (machine-magic!). Readers of my shorter work may recognize The Sack of Gotham, the novella (re-edited and slightly adapted) that forms the first portion of this new book. Assuming no catastrophic editing nightmares, Zeitgeist should hit the digital shelves in late spring or early summer.
  • Start writing a new series (or possibly a stand-alone novel). The aforementioned Gunmage series is in contention to follow Zeitgeist, but it will have to push aside another idea that’s been pinging around in my skull. This would be a novel consisting of a series of linked paranormal and cyberpunk-ish short stories set in a near-future American spaceport. At some point, I'd also like to revisit the cross-dimensional, post-apocalyptic invasion series that Symphony shoved aside a couple of years ago. And get started on an epic swords & sorcery fantasy. And a space opera. Sigh...
  • Begin to reboot my short story collections. While novel-writing will consume most of my production time, I’m also embarking on a reboot of my short story collections, splitting them into longer, novel-length work focused more narrowly by genre. The twenty-one stories of The Singles Collection will be repackaged with new work and some older, reworked material. I’m not sure how many collections are going to result, but the first should hit the digital shelves this year.
  • Update my production workflows and website. Part of the process of rebooting the shorts collections and publishing the new novel(s) will include a move to a new publishing workflow using the ebook formatting software Vellum. This should result in prettier and more consistently formatted ebooks, and, if all goes well, most of my back catalogue should get a makeover in the next 12-18 months. Finally, I’ll try to work in a reboot of my website, which hasn’t exactly been lavished with attention the last year or so. 

That’s the tentative plan anyway. See you back here this time next year (assuming the world hasn’t blown up or civilization collapsed into Dark Ages barbarism), to check how far off the roadmap I've veered!

The Year Gone, The Year Ahead

2015 is dead. Long live 2015!

From a writing perspective, I’ll remember it most as the year I put the finishing touches on The Dreambetween Symphony with the publication of the novels Exile Ballad and Requiem as well as the companion volume Preludes & Elegies. (Note: there is one final bow to tie on the series, but you’ll have to read on to find out what that might be…)

My other big project was the overhaul of the interior formatting and covers for my entire catalog. This meant brand new covers for all four titles in the Symphony and for my NuLo books, Seven and Quinboy (the latter being a novelette also on the list of stories published this year), as well as some gentle tweaking of the covers for The Singles Collection short story bundles.

 

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The covers for Seven, before and after...

 
 

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During the editing process for the final installments of the Symphony, I got a surprise that altered my production schedule for the rest of the year (and beyond!). Several threads merged into what I thought was the seed of a short story or novelette, which I duly banged out to the tune of 12,000 words or so. But the story always felt bigger, so I played with expanding what I had, and suddenly found myself with a new novel on my hands. Two months later, I put the finishing touches on the first draft of The Pike, a near-future, dystopian-ish, cyberpunk novel. Given how genre-distinct this book is from my existing “worlds” of the Dreambetween and NuLo, I’m not sure if I’ll publish it under a pen name or keep it in the quiver until I have a more established author brand. Of course, as is my wont, I’ve already got a rough idea for a sequel that’s begging for attention…

And that brings us to the project that closed out my writing year. November 9 was my version of NaNoWriMo, wherein I tossed all the story ideas that would have distracted me during the drafting of The Pike into a folder and used November to put the nine most interesting ideas into story form. Written, edited, and published during that month, the nine stories cover a range of genres and (...predictably, I hear you say...) caused yet another round of adjustments to my 2016 production schedule.

How so? Well, If you enjoyed the final story in that collection, a weird western entitled Lamia’s Daughter, you’ll be pleased to know that I’m in the process of expanding that setting to encompass and entire series. Tentatively titled Gunmage, the series will follow the adventures of a young man in an alternate-Earth version of the Wild West, replete with eldritch guns, fey magic, and demons. While I have several characters and storylines I’d like to explore, I’m still not sure if the series will be published as novellas or full novels. I’ll have a better idea once I begin drafting the thing in the next few months.

But before I get there I need to put the icing The Dreambetween Symphony cake. This final flourish will take the form of an omnibus ebook edition of the series that includes all three novels and the companion volume. That’s the entirety of the Symphony in one digital bundle that will be less expensive than buying the individual books. But I’m going to offer an even better deal to my mailing list (sign up here) in the form of a special launch sale. I’ll just tease that here at the end of the post and trust you to do the right (and obvious) thing…

I look forward to delivering more words to you soon!

Looking Back, Looking Forward

One year ago, I published my first novel, Seven: The Haunted Girl of NuLo. Of course, when I say first, what I really mean is third, since there are two novels sitting in the digital filing cabinet that will never see the light of day. NEVER, I say! 

(Note: When a writer says never, they usually mean that they'll probably recycle and incorporate bits of those stories into new projects going forward. ;-)

And new projects are certainly on the horizon for me. After years of piling up the rejections, the move to self-publishing (or indie publishing, if you prefer) seems to have increased my forward momentum, shaking the cobwebs off my glacial production machine and getting the gears well and truly churning. Let’s review…

When Seven launched in January of 2014, it was available in one format (Kindle ebook) on a single market (Amazon). As I sit here on the far side of 2014, I have three novel-length works and six collections of short fiction available as ebooks on the four major platforms (Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo). Additionally, all three of the novel-length books are available in paperback from Amazon and CreateSpace (and in bookstores and libraries via special order).

Of course, one of those "novel-length" works is a compilation of the six short fiction collections I published, but still, I’m pretty pleased with my first year as an indie publisher. It’s set up a good platform for the second year.

So that’s enough ego-stroking and navel-gazing. What does 2015 have in store for you, the reader?

 

Finish the Dreambetween

Song of the Severed Lord, the first book of The Dreambetween Symphony, my contemporary/historical fantasy series about a communal dream and the family that inhabits it, was published in September, 2014. The follow up, Exile Ballad, will be released in early February. Requiem, the final novel in the series, will follow in late May or early June (I’m just about a third of the way through the first draft as we speak…write…whatever). 

A fourth novel-length Dreambetween book comprised of short stories, novellas, and appendices containing family histories, an index of story locations, glossaries, and a translation/pronunciation guide (Preludes & Elegies), will be released in the autumn, thus completing the Symphony. The short stories and novellas will also be published separately as ebooks, often for free, and the appendices will likely feature on this website as well. The final step in the series will be to get all four volumes released as an omnibus ebook edition (and possibly also in hardcover—not sure about that one yet).

 

Start the Next Series

With the Dreambetween put to bed (sigh), I’ll begin work on a second series. I have four potential ideas that are currently percolating and vying for my attention, but I’m still not sure which one will grab me and demand that I write it. I’m pilling up notes and ideas for all four, but I’m not going to dive in until all of the first drafts for the Dreambetween stuff are safely out of my head. I doubt that this second series will hit the digital shelves before 2016, but if I hit a rich vein of form…

 

Revisit the Inventory

Production is job #1 at the moment, but part of the idea of releasing so much work in 2014 (including quite a bit from the short story back catalog) was to see what worked and what didn’t from a publishing angle—refining the process and identifying the best tools and workflows for the job. I’ve certainly made mistakes and been a bit scattershot on the marketing/social media side of the equation, but I fully expected that that would be the case. So in addition to production, I’m going to start cleaning up after myself a bit in 2015. Expect things to get a lot more streamlined and focused.

Time, health, and ambition permitting, of course.

So thanks for coming along on the ride with me through Year One. Hope you enjoyed the stories and the journey, and I look forward to providing you with more words soon...


Exile Ballad, the follow-up to Song of the Severed Lord, will be released soon. Sign up for my mailing list to get the first word about the release (I plan to launch at a special sale price) and to get a free Dreambetween short story ebook, La Chanson du Sang.