Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Out with the old; in with the new!

Well, the new year is well upon us. Now that the ornaments and wrapping paper have been packed away, the snacks all eaten up, and the last tippling toast is simply a memory, it's time to think about writing again. 

I took a couple weeks sabbatical from writing before and during the previous holidays. Things got hectic, with lots to do, and I wanted some time with family. Before the end of the year though, I was back at my desk, trying to get a few last minute projects out. Then as the calendars came down on 2014, and those for 2015 went up, I took a look back at what was accomplished over the previous 12 months, before making a brand new 'TO-DO' list to stick on my desktop, reminding me of deadlines and commitments for the unfolding year. 

On the accomplishments end, I did quite well, especially considering what a tough year 2014 turned out to be. We didn't have as many of the financial issues we'd had the previous two years at least, though nobody in my household is getting rich. About the biggest change for me was having to be a part to full time babysitter to my younger grandson. That started in April when his mom got a daytime position, and went on until just before Thanksgiving, when she went on maternity leave before giving birth to his baby sister. I found out fast that babysitting and writing don't mix with a rambunctious little guy like Zack, because you don't want to turn your back on him and get deep in thought or he's going to be doing something we'll both regret. So I had to really hustle to get writing done during naps, and in the before and after hours. Weekends were mostly given to other things, because I have my oldest son and mother over, and we spend time together on projects and just visiting. I also planned and planted a full vegetable garden, which meant I had to take days off now and then to pick, process, and put up produce. Yeah... I was pretty busy in 2014!

March of 2014 saw the publication of a brand new anthology series for my HANSEN'S WAY imprint—THE WINDRIDERS OF EVERICE. That was a manuscript that had been turned in back in 2013, and one story was plucked from it in January of 2014, and released as one of the first Pro Se Press SINGLE SHOTs. Those Kindle-only short stories sell for 99¢. A SINGLE SHOT is an inexpensive way to sample a writer's work without a large investment, and the free Kindle app will let you read your purchase on your PC, tablet, or many other devices. The story still is included in the Windrider's anthology. All the Windrider stories contain some violence, but no adult situations, so they are just as suitable for advanced readers above the early elementary years as they are for adults.

Even with the limited time, I still managed to turn in two novels that had been in progress previously, for my Pro Se Imprint HANSEN'S WAY, and also revamped and sent in a third installment on our COMPANION DRAGONS TALES series, which will appear once again in Pro Se's YOUNG PULP imprint. I went over several galley drafts of short stories I had turned into Pro Se the year before, and in July saw the publication of my short story 'Freedom's Road' in the Pro Se anthology TALL PULP. In August, came my short story 'The False Don' in THE NEW ADVENTURES OF THE WHIRLWIND, which was published under Pro Se's PULP OBSCURA imprint. 

In September, a 9 year dream came to pass, as we finally got Waxy Dragon's first book published under the YOUNG PULP Pro Se Imprint. COMPANION DRAGONS TALES VOLUME TWO: FINDING WAXY was co-authored with longtime online pal Roger Stegman, from a concept he developed almost 10 years ago. It was supposed to be released first in the series, but a serious auto accident back in 2012 put it on hold until Roger was recovered enough to correspond with me. Good to have it in print at last. All COMPANION DRAGONS TALES are geared toward all children and the adults who love them. I'll have more to say about all this soon on my other blog, COMPANION DRAGONS TALES.

Those two novels I turned in this past year are a bit overdue, but I have been assured they are coming sometime before the first half of this year is out. One of them is MASTER'S ENDGAME, the sequel to the first Greenwood Cycle trilogy that started with FORTUNE'S PAWN and continued in PROPHECY'S GAMBIT. I've had a lot of fan feedback on the series, and many eager inquiries as to when the third book will be out. Some of you have asked me about specific characters, and I'll tell you, it warms my heart to realize how invested people get in the lives and trials of certain individuals in the tales. I can tell you for a fact that Callie does give birth in this one, and there is a conflict of epic proportions that pulls together just about all the subplot threads I've been spinning. Heroes and villains abound. Honor and sacrifice juxtapose with intrigue and bloody mayhem—all of it revolving around everyone's favorite red haired barmaid, and the birth of a legend. You don't want to miss it.

Toward the very end of the year, I turned in back cover copy and art directions for MASTER'S ENDGAME as well as the other novel, which headlines a brand new series for my imprint. FORGED BY FLAME is the opening novel of The Sudarnian Chronicles, a story that unfolds when three farm children with some interesting talents have to learn to make their way in a land where they are strangers. As with all my imprint stories, whether they are novels, anthology collections of short pieces, or standalone short pieces, the setting is the same overarching fantasy world, and you will occasionally find crossover characters. For those of you who enjoy the exploits of the High Wizard Kendahl—and I get a lot of feedback about him—he will appear in both these books I mentioned, only at different settings and times in his illustrious and extremely busy life.

The anthology SINGULARITY: RISE OF THE POSTHUMANS which will be published by New Babel Books, was supposed to be out around Christmas 2014. For unforeseen reasons it got delayed, so we're all hoping for a 2015 release. I have a short story in that steampunk-meets-superhero world, called 'Simon Simple'.

Friend and fellow author Lee Houston Jr. and I collaborated on a Tales Of The Hanging Monkey short story for Airship 27 last year. Not sure when we'll see that, but it turned out to be a pretty good tale with a surprise twist ending. We plan on working together again on projects like that, since we managed not to kill each other in the writing process. LOL!

That takes care of last year's writing, for the most part. As far as goals set for this year...

First and foremost, there was the mysterious novel I started working on in February, the one I kept teasing you about...

After nearly 9 months work, I turned in the manuscript in November, right before Thanksgiving. It was read by the publisher and raved about online, and I was promised a slot sometime this year. I can now tell you now that the novel is a historical fiction pirate yarn as well as the start of a series, that the publisher is AIRSHIP 27, and the tentative title is JEZEBEL JOHNSTON—DEVIL'S HANDMAID. This is my first foray into pirate stories, something I've always loved in movies. It took a ton of research to become even remotely familiar with all the seafaring terms, as well as the political, social, and economic issues that lead to colonization and subsequent covert actions via piracy in the Caribbean area and extending to wherever big ships plied the seven seas in search of trade items. Interject into that a mixed race young woman with big dreams and a name to live up to, the handsome pirate that she is so smitten with that she can't let him leave without her, and her ability to pass herself off as a young man. She learns quickly that what you hear about the glory of piracy in taverns and what happens in reality are two different things. It's a bloody, violent business, filled with treachery and camaraderie of the most twisted kind. Believe me, this book was a ton of work but ultimately a fun write as well.

I was informed today that professional artist Terry Pavlet has signed on to do both the cover art and interior sketches for JEZEBEL JOHNSTON—DEVIL'S HANDMAID. Airship 27 is hoping for a summer release. If you're wondering about the title, Airchief Ron Fortier came up with the absolutely brilliant idea of naming each book after not only the character, but whatever vessel she is attached to at the time of the story. Since this is destined to be a series, that should work out quite well. This is my first novel with the folks at AS27, and I really appreciate their enthusiasm about the project. 

I added several unfinished/not-yet-started projects to my yearly list. I've been picking away at yet another anthology for Hansen's Way, this one a sort of spin-off from The Tales Of The Vagabond Bards #1 (there will be more of those BTW). In the third story 'The Cavalier In The Cathouse, I introduced the world to a diminutive errant adventurer with a rapier, named Alexandre Louis Edouard Lebeau; who sets out to rescue a lovely and charming half-Elven thief named Danika, aka The Phantom Rose with some help from one of the Vagabond Bards. The story ended with those two escaping as fugitives, but their imperfect love haunted me and I decided they had more to say. I had written a short piece about their further adventures for a charity anthology that kind of died in the water. Once my Pro Se imprint was announced, I knew I was going to have to give them a book all to themselves. I managed to finish a second short piece for that prospective anthology this past year, and will be working on a third story this year to fill it out. If all goes well, Pro Se will have it sometime this summer, if not sooner.

I also intend to start working on a second volume of Vagabond Bards tales. I have one story firmly in mind right now, and several ideas on the back burner. That anthology I'd like to see well underway if not completed before the end of the year.

I have to start working on a new COMPANION DRAGONS TALES novella as well. There are a couple ways to go here, because I can tap Lee for a Kiri dragon story, or put together some pre-existing Lazlo/Waxy tales for a small anthology. I'll be thinking more about that as the year goes on, because I am covered for a 2015 release already.

And of course, I need to write another Jezebel Johnston pirate adventure for Airship 27. Since I rough plotted three books before I proposed the idea, I've just got to hunker down and get to it. At least with this second book, I'll know the principle characters well, and won't feel quite as lost in the terminology!

I've also been hard at work at another Sinbad short story adventure for the Airship 27 ongoing series. Those books fill up fast, so while Volume 4 just came out in November, I might not make it into Volume 5 before it's full. Not to worry, I'm sure they'll find room for me somewhere, and I want this to be a very well-told tale, so I am taking my time. this particular incarnation of Sinbad is just so much fun to work with! I hope to have this story done and turned in by the first week of February. It's somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 done now.

Pro Se has a couple short stories of mine from 2013 that I hear we might see this year. I did a story for the second Pulptress anthology (there was a standalone tale in between) and another for Monster Aces. Really looking forward to seeing those hit print.

For those of you who are fans of my 2-short story (so far) modern PI series The Keener Eye, which ran in Pro Se Presents (and got me my first magazine cover), you're in for a treat. Just under the wire on December 30th, I turned in a third story tailored in length to be released as a Pro Se SINGLE SHOT. Not sure when we will see it, but 'Poor Little Rich Girl' will probably be out sometime this year. Both of the Brewster brothers along with some assistance from the indomitable Kate Keener, will be quite busy resolving the fiasco of what should have been a simple job of transporting a young lady to her private school at the behest of her not quite so forthcoming family.

Is there more to say about Callie after she gave birth to a living legend? Apparently so, because her child still has to grow up, and that requires surviving life in a frontier town that is now becoming a bona fide village in an area that is slowly growing civilized. Dangers still lurk within and without. I had started the next big book in the original novel series back in 2005, and will go back to that source to weed out the best parts and rewrite the continuing adventures of the next generation of Greenwood heroes and villains. Some old familiar faces will show up, some brand new folks will be introduced, and lots of surprises both welcome and unpleasant are in store. I'll be picking away at getting this next book together most of this year.

Two potential projects that got moved over from last year without being touched on, were...

I'd like to write another western short story. I really kind of fell in love with the idea of westerns when I turned in my short piece for THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SENORITA SCORPION back in 2012. Gonna mull this one over again this year, and see if I can come up with a standalone idea. That's about as much as I can say now, because I haven't come up with characters or a plot line, but you can almost bet there will be an intrepid female in there somewhere. Writing women into heroic situations just seems to be my calling.

I had great expectations for THE SILVER PENTACLE series. I am at a loss for what to do with these stories now. The original tales (I've written three so far) were aimed for Pro Se's larger format Lulu published magazines. All but the first one were too big for Pro Se Presents in its digest form, and the first one was out so long ago (September 2011) I'm afraid it's been all but forgotten. Collected as a novel, it's way too large for any of the New Pulp publishers. If I chopped up the stories to fit the SINGLE SHOT format, they'd make little sense, and I'd have to do some copious rewriting. I had a 4th and 5th tale in mind, and the series was supposed to continue well beyond that. Right now I am sitting on it, with the idea of making it a self-published novel, if I can ever afford to do so, and Pro Se is willing to let go the rights. There's been no issue there, and the folks at Pro Se have been very supportive and encouraging about what we could do with it. It's just my reluctance to carve up my babies that is holding it back.

Which also brings to mind one other Pro Se short story series I had called THE SONG OF HEROES. Two of the stories made it into the magazines ('Lori's Lament' and 'Dark Eyes Of Night') but the third ('Turtle Key') is still in limbo. Once again, it is too long for a SINGLE SHOT, and too short to be turned into a novel. I will likely have to consider writing another tale or two of Lori and her 'heroes' to fill out an anthology. This one topped off just under 24,000 words and was also geared for the old Lulu format mags. It's has been on a back burner since October of 2010!

So many stories to write, so little time. As you can see, 2015 already has a full slate, and that's without my being invited in to work on someone else's idea. I do still owe Airship 27 a TALES OF THE HANGING MONKEY story I proposed way back when, and haven't forgotten that commitment. 

I should also mention here that my monthly column in our town's newsletter is ongoing, and headed for its second full year in June. It's not hard to write, and takes me about one afternoon to get the concept down, and the next morning to proofread and edit before it goes out the door (via email). It's been well received and remarked on favorably, so I think a lot of people would be disappointed if I stopped. So far I have not missed a deadline, and am often well ahead of them. I just turned in the February 2015 installment a couple days ago.

I've learned the hard way over the nearly 5 years of being published that I have to prioritize my writing time, because you just can't get to everything. With the way things are in my life right now, I've had to give up all but the most simple editing jobs, which I mostly do on chapters or short pieces written by trusted friends I either collaborate with or ask for the same service in exchange. Ditto with book reviews, and other special projects—I try not to take on anything that ties me up more than an afternoon or two. I just don't have much time anymore to read let alone edit entire books, and my eyesight has degraded so badly over the last several years, I walk away from the computer with a headache and eyestrain most days. Beyond fiction writing there's self-promotion, blogging, social network posts, and emails to answer, so the keyboard and monitor work continues long after the the story is tucked away for the day. Now and then my family likes to see more than the back part of me too.

I never dreamed I'd be so busy at this stage in my life. My guitars all sit idle, I've tubs of untouched craft supplies and yarn, I haven't drawn or painted anything in ages, and I still need to learn to sew properly and knit ( I do crochet). What I can cram into each day I do, and the weeks and months pass like picket fences seen from a Bullet Train. I suppose there are worse things to deal with. At least when it's my time to leave this Green Earth, I'll have accomplished a few things that I set out to do.

I'll have written a lot of stories—that you can count on!

Hope your year will be happily productive as well,


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