Posts tagged: The Thrilling Writing Life

Jan 12 2014

Back in the Saddle

This picture was taken during the filming of the Mongoliad trailer. There was an entire section of the script that revolved around Joe Brassey and I in the office, typing and thinking. Eventually, we’d go upstairs and hit each other with swords. The hitting each other with swords bit is the only part that stayed in the final cut. Because, well, apparently Joe and I are even more awkward on camera than Neal.

Anyway, I was poking around at 750words.com this morning in an effort to find a way to track word count metrics, and realized I needed a profile picture. Something with me and a laptop in my “office,” AKA the comfy chair. I had to go back nearly two years to find evidence of me actually writing. That should tell you something.

But, yes, there was writing this morning. And yesterday too. Must have something to do with the fact that I finalized four books in the Fall schedule last week, and got cover art for those same books all taken care of. One of the big milestones in the first months of Resurrection House is in the can. I have books. They have covers. There are manuscripts in place. I suppose I can take a bit of time to myself and see if I remember how to do this writing thing.

That, and three books are starting to bang against the insides of my head. HERE BE MONSTERS, ANGEL TONGUE, and something I’m calling EVERGREEN. I’m going to try to finish two of the three this year. Maybe all three. We’ll see how it goes. I had two of the three on my list last year too. We see how well that turned out.

Jan 07 2014

Leaving 2013

We’re a few days into the new year now, and I’ve already got a dozen lists of things to do, which is better than a box full of “things partially attempted and mostly unfinished,” isn’t it? I considered making resolutions and posting them to various social media places so that folks could call me on them later, but I realized that my list would be short.

  1. Let go of fear.
  2. Seize opportunities as they present themselves.
  3. Make creative mischief.

Which is pretty much the list that led me to founding Resurrection House, and that seems to have been one of my better ideas last year. I’ve acquired almost twenty books already (though, only four of them are front list). I have more than thirty novels in the submission queue. I announced a reading period for the XIII anthology about three weeks ago, and I’ve already received more than a hundred submissions (pushing 450K in total word count). It’s only going to get crazier, I suspect.

2013 was a pretty good year for creative work for me, too, and so perhaps it isn’t a bad thing that I spend 2014 working behind the scenes. Earth Thirst came out in January, and then promptly disappeared into the morass surrounding the sale of Night Shade Books. Mongoliad Book 3 came out in April, which was a nice cap to that arc, and then Katabasis came out in October, and no one seems to have noticed yet.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Sales have been good on the fourth Mongoliad book, but there’s a certain strain of ‘I didn’t know it was even out/planned’ in the commentary. For the record, Siege Perilous—the final Mongoliad book—is out at the end of the month.

There were two Foreworld novellas last year: Beast of Calatrava and Seer. Beast, along with The Lion in Chains (co-written with Angus Trim) and The Shield-Maiden (written by Michael & Linda Pearce) were collected in print as the first volume of SideQuest Adventures, back in August.

Fairwood Press and I assembled my short fiction into three ebook editions: The Queen of Faith, The Hollow Prince, and The King in Scarlet. A combination of factors prevented us from getting the last one into all of major outlets before Xmas, which is unfortunate as the final story in that volume is the long awaited Christmas story that I’ve been sitting on for many years.

That’s a lot of words. No wonder my brain is tired.

I’ve been waking up recently with my head filled with half-remembered narratives though, which is a sure sign that my brain wants to get back to story-telling.

Apr 29 2013

How Was Your Weekend?

Saturday we shipped the first stage of CLANG to our Kickstarter friends. And there was much rejoicing, as well as a party that involved swords and piñatas.

Sunday was a day spent folding t-shirts and prepping to mail out all the Kickstarter rewards. Not as much rejoicing–well, not for those who folded more t-shirts than they’d like to remember–but there was cake.

Today was spent working through the minutia of foreign royalties for eight titles across one quarter and two separate monthly cycles, which meant lots of time in Excel. Not very much rejoicing there either.

And so tonight will be spent working on the last of the mini keg of Georgetown Porter while watching utterly brainless TV. Tomorrow I will get back to the chapter with the flaming sword because, alas, Katabasis is not writing itself.

Jan 07 2013

The Little Black Book

I carry around a little black notebook. Most of us do, in some fashion or another. Mine is a Moleskine daily journal from 2007, when I had the idea of writing a full page every day and filling the notebook in a year. It’s taken me five years, and I’m down to the last few pages. In the front, I set aside a page for a table of contents, marking the start and end date of every project. It starts with The Potemkin Mosaic and ends with Earth Thirst. 2007 was also the year of my first professional short story sale (“How the Mermaid Lost Her Song” at Strange Horizons), which makes this little black book the record of my first five years of writing professionally.

There are eleven projects listed (one is still under wraps); five have been published (Potemkin, two CODEX books, two Foreworld books, and Earth Thirst); two—Instrument and Rabbit’s Foot—are novels in the universe that I have several short stories in; and the rest are isolated projects that are still in the germinative state.

Notice that the start date for Angel Tongue is a month before I finished Heartland. I’m just pointing that out to keep the nay-sayers at bay.

Which puts me at just under fifty percent, which I find to be a pretty good percentage. Of course, things don’t get put on the front page of the book until they’re far enough along to warrant keeping notes. And the list doesn’t really reflect that I did a lot of ruminating in the early years (through 2009), and in the last few, I’ve been spending more time writing than wool-gathering. Nor does this list reflect the five novellas that were written in the back half of 2012 (all of which will be out by this coming February). All in all, I wrote nearly 200,000 words last year and did editorial rewriting on another half million.

I started another writing notebook this week. It has three projects with start dates of January 1st. BLOOD HARVEST, HERE BE MONSTERS, and ANGEL TONGUE. I used to be an intensive planner, but looking back on the full writer’s notebook, I have to admit that very little of that was on my five year plan. My goal in the next year is to write one of those three books listed above. Maybe we should do a pool. Long odds on ANGEL TONGUE, of course.

[This post originally appeared at The Night Bazaar on January 4th, 2013.]

Nov 29 2012

SideQuests

I’ve been in deadline hell for the last few months. For a brief moment, I am surfacing to clear my desk and try to reply to a bunch of emails and figure out where I live still before I get sucked back in to various projects. Let’s see what has happened since the last time I wandered through.

The Mongoliad Book Two came out. As did Dreamer, the second Foreworld SideQuest. As did The Lion in Chains, the third SideQuest. I didn’t write the fourth, The Shield-Maiden, but it is out too. The fifth, The Beast of Calatrava, is scheduled for early January of 2013 (me, again), and the sixth, Seer, is dropping in February when The Mongoliad Book Three comes out. The cover art for Seer has just gone up.

Oh, and Earth Thirst comes out in January too.

This is what deadline hell for nearly a year translates to: lots of content. I can’t complain, but it’s nice not to have that clock ticking. I say that now, but it is going to start up again in a few weeks. Other than that, I’ve been catching up on my reading. A couple Lisa Lutz Spellman books; a huge chunk of the Walt Longmire series (by Craig Johnson), a couple of Robert B. Parker books, and some of the Parker novels (in order, mind you).

And yes, I’m looking forward to the new film version in January. Jason Statham could use a good franchise, and he’ll do just fine as Parker.

Aug 12 2012

Stories, Books, and the Cat

I’m returning from the writing mines to offer a few updates. The exciting one for those who wonder if I’m ever going to publish more short fiction is that Beneath Ceaseless Skies has just posted “The Heart of The Rail” in Issue #101 where I join Jack Nicholls (whose “Tale of the Aggrieved Astrologer” is quite entertaining, and is his first progressional sale as well; congratulations, sir!) and Christie Yant (whose “The Three Feats of Agani” from Issue #100 is the audio fiction selection this month). Cool steampunk wild west cover art by Ignacio Bazán Lazcano as well.

I join an august group of writers, and I’m quite pleased that “Heart of the Rail” has found a home. It’s a taste of some world-building that has been gaining some traction in my brain as of late. Various iterations of this world can be found in other stories, but I’m finally getting a sense of what this world is going to be.

A few weeks ago, I attended the Cascade Writers Conferences as one of their instructors (I ran through an abbreviated version of the “Jumpstart Your Novel” seminar). I saw some people who I don’t get to see often enough, met some delightful new writers, showed the fine folks at Applebees how writers tend to be oblivious to minor details like closing time, and had a chance to spook myself with a bit of Tarot throwing.

(Short version: my brain is starting to think about Angel Tongue; coincidences and syncronicities are starting to pile up.)

The Foreworld novella, “Sinner,” comes out in a few weeks. The second novella, “Dreamer,” comes out four weeks later, along with The Mongoliad: Book Two. There will also be deluxe editions of Book One and Book Two released at the same time, which is to say, hardback versions with maps and illustrations. The third novella in that cycle (“Seer”) will drop with Book Three in February of next year. These aren’t the only Foreworld stories coming out, by the way; these three were envisioned as a loose triptych.

By the way, yes, I have content coming out with my name on it in August and September and January and February. This is the culmination of the last two years of work, really. And that’s not all of it. There will be more. I was updating my bibliography earlier this morning and noticed that my last short story publication was in 2009. In 2010, I had one publication (Heartland), and 2011 only had the serialized version of the The Mongoliad. While the pace in the last few months has been more chaotic than I would like, I can’t say that it isn’t bearing fruit.

The hoary maxim is true, gang: Write–often, and without reservation.

And as the final edit pass for The Mongoliad Book Three is in my inbox, I should get back to doing just that.

Enkidu is happy that I’m home again. I don’t think he was terribly upset about missing the family trip to Yellowstone Park; it’s just that it annoys him if I’m not around to watch him nap. Cats get stressed out if no one witnesses their indolence.

Jun 20 2012

Earth Thirst Cover

Here’s the cover to Earth Thirst. Art is by Cody Tilson.

The marketing copy for the book reads:

The Earth is dying. Humanity–over-breeding, over-consuming–is destroying the very planet they call home. Multinational corporations despoil the environment, market genetically-modified crops to control the food supply, and use their wealth and influence and private armies to crush anything, and anyone, that gets in the way of their profits. Nothing human can stop them.

But something unhuman might.

Once they did not fear the sun. Once they could breathe the air and sleep where they chose. But now they can rest only within the uncontaminated soil of Mother Earth–and the time has come for them to fight back against the ruthless corporations that threaten their immortal existence.

They are the last guardians of paradise, more than human but less than angels. They call themselves the Arcadians.

We know them as vampires . . .

It comes out in January 2013. And yes, I am very thrilled to have this as my next book cover.

May 09 2012

Earth Thirst Arrives in January

Night Shade has announced their winter schedule, and Earth Thirst is right there at the end with a planned January release date. Something you can spend your Christmas money on. NSB has a product page up which includes the marketing copy (but no cover art, yet). A bit of a hint of where I’m taking the vampire mythology.

We’re still rolling through Mongoliad press around here. I have a post on John Scalzi’s Whatever this morning (thank you, sir!). We did a video roundtable for Tom and Victoria at Sword and Laser on Monday, which is up on YouTube already. It’s pretty cool that we could do a group interview with most of the team like that without technology getting in the way.

As intimated in the Whatever Big Idea and in the video interview, the team is back at work on the next piece of Foreworld history. It’s not that we stopped between Janaury and now; it’s more that we went into brainstorming mode and have been collecting ideas. There’s a structure emerging, and we’re going to disappear again for awhile as we go make things up. Book Two of The Mongoliad is scheduled for September, and I believe Book Three is penciled in for February. The short stories will start tumbling like fall leaves in the appropriate season, I would expect. There will be a lot for people to read in the next year.

That makes me happy. We’ve got you covered, folks.

Apr 24 2012

Mongoliad Book One Release Day Blitz

Well, here we are. The Mongoliad Book One came out today. You can buy it in the more discerning brick and mortar stores or through a variety of online retailers. If you have an option to buy it in a physical store, please do so. That’s the extent of my weighing in on all the recent flap about the new age of publishing. Go to a bookstore. They’ll appreciate it. If you live in the Seattle area, Duane at the U Bookstore, up near the University of Washington campus, is stocking the book.

In fact, Duane has arranged for a mass signing of all the authors on May 17th. 7:00pm. Upstairs. Where the crowd will be. We will have all SEVEN authors present. This is, to my knowledge, the only time that we’ll have all seven in the same room for the near future.

Before I get to the obligatory launch day link-o-rama, I would like to highlight the addition of the Collector’s Edition of Book One. The Amazon page has lovely cover art now (which, I am told, may not be final, but I’m pretty pleased with it as it is, since it wouldn’t hurt my feelings any if it ended up being the final cover).

You’ll notice, in the fine print, that the Collector’s Edition contains the prequel story called “Sinner,” which is one of the pieces of our next phase in world domination. The Collector’s Edition may also contain some additional materials which we’re still wrangling.

Okay, to the link list.

There are a number of excerpts that have been posted online as part of the marketing blitz.

Also, a couple of guest posts/interviews on blogs:

Mar 06 2012

A New Class and a New Book

I like Neil Gaiman’s post the other day about writing, wherein he talks about the magical state and the fog state of the craft. Some days, you know where you’re going; other days, it is akin to being lost in a fog.

For me, these days, it is somewhat akin to being strapped to a locomotive with a fully-stoked engine, going down-hill. It’s all I can do to hang on.

This, then, is one of those attempts to raise my head enough that I can shout out a few things without the wind ripping me off the engine entirely.

I’m teaching another class in a few weeks. Branching Narratives: The Mechanics of Plot Topiary”. It’s on March 25th at the Richard Hugo House in Seattle. For those who attended the one I did last fall an outlining a novel, this is sort of the follow-on workshop. It’s coming up quick, and I have no idea how full the class is, but the previous one sold out and then some.

The PR machinery for The Mongoliad is starting up. We should have some exciting announcements about Phase Two of our Sektrit Plans about that same time. Meanwhile, remember what I said about the train? Yeah, there’s a lot of work being done behind the scenes right now. There’s actually a bit of new Foreworld content that’s been written as well.

The Cabiri, an aerialist group I do some things for, is having their spring show in a few weeks as well. Tarhun: Legend of the Lightening God runs the first two weekends in April. It’s basically an ancient Hittite spring festival performance with monsters. I know. Where else are you going to see such a thing?

I signed the contract last week for a one-off book. Its codename was GREENFANG, but its official title is going to be EARTH THIRST. Night Shade is publishing it, and it should be out in the early part of 2013. It’s my vampire book, and yeah, it’s a “vampire” book in the same sense that the CODEX books are strictly “urban fantasy.” The gang at Night Shade is pretty excited about this book and that’s exactly the sort of home it needed, and so I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with it.

And now you can understand why I’m going to go hide out at the Rainforest Writers’ Village for a few days. I’ve got some writing to get done.