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2018 writing plan (wait, I have a plan?!)

The holidays are done and I’ve had a nice long vacation, so it’s time to set a 2018 writing plan! Which is surprisingly organized of me, I feel. But it’s a level of organization I really need to aim for, if I want to get my writing back in gear this year. So let’s see if I can pull this off.

Release Walk the Wards

The goal here is to see if I can finally have the novellas that make up Walk the Wards ready to release by Norwescon. That convention falls in mid-April this year.

What this will require: getting the writing done by mid-February or so. Then beta reading has to happen, as well as a proper edit pass.

I’ve already initiated a cover art discussion with the same artist I engaged to do the cover for Warder Soul, Nicole Cardiff. She sent me a thumbnail sketch that I like, and we’ll be moving forward with turning that into an actual picture. This’ll be from the story “The Light Beyond the Gate”–the story of what happens to Jude while she’s in Faerie during Bone Walker.

Who’ll be in this picture? No less august a personage than Amelialoren, the Queen of Light and Morning, monarch of the Seelie Court in her throne room. And there will also be Melisanda ana’Sharran, warrior of the Seelie Court. So you’ll get two important Seelie women on the cover for the price of one!

Behold!

Walk the Wards cover rough

Walk the Wards cover rough

And a general status check: “A Power in the Blood” and “Diminuendo” are both done in first draft form. I’m working now on “The Deepest Breath of Song”, Oscar’s story, though I will probably swap back and forth between it and the other two tales as I proceed to finish this thing up.

As of last night, the book was just shy of 55,000 words and “The Deepest Breath of Song” crossed the 10K mark. I suspect this book as a whole will be a bit shorter than Faerie Blood or Bone Walker, but I’m okay with that.

Release Queen of Ghosts

Once Walk the Wards is safely out the door, I need to return to Queen of Ghosts, my Hades and Persephone story. What has to happen here: review of edits already done, and applying of those to the manuscript.

Then I’ll need cover art for this, too. Once Nicole has finished the cover art for Walk the Wards I will probably also get her to do this book as well.

Target for when to get this done: some time this summer, but what’s more likely is maybe to have this done in time for Orycon. Which would be nice, because then I could have a new release at Norwescon, and a new release at Orycon as well.

Stand by for further updates.

Finish Warder Soul

Probably in parallel to the two above things, I’ll return to working on Warder Soul, Book 3 of the Free Court series. This doesn’t necessarily have to wait till Walk the Wards is released. But it does have to wait at least until I have finished, solid versions of “The Plight of the Warder’s Daughter” and “The Light Beyond the Gate”, because both of these are important setup for that book.

I do not yet anticipate this book being ready to release this year. But I will be trying to get it ready before next year’s Norwescon. Since I’m liking the idea of targeting release dates for conventions where I’m likely to show up and be able to sell books, this might mean having it ready by a convention in January 2019. More as I know it.

Boosting the Signal

Inadvertent Boosting the Signal hiatus and apology

Y’all may have noticed that there haven’t been any Boosting the Signal posts in a while. This is not because I don’t have any to post–because I DO. But I’ve been swamped with trying to plan a bunch of my own projects lately, as well as not having much brain left over from the day job.

But I’ve been also trying to conduct a bunch of digital spring cleaning in my life, and that includes working on email backlog, which in turn means working on getting those lagged Boosting the Signal posts out.

Therefore, I’d like to issue public apologies to Shawna Reppert, Jeffrey Cook, Kyell Gold, and a couple other folks I think I’ve missed, about not getting your posts up in a timely fashion. I will be putting up those lagged posts this week, so please be on the lookout for those.

Once that is done, I’m also going to put Boosting the Signal on a bit more official of a hiatus. I have a lot of writing I need to do–as I called out in my post from earlier today, I have a lot of balls in the air and I need to focus on juggling them properly if I want to get at least one release done this year. So I won’t be actively recruiting Boosting the Signal posts for a while.

If people want to actively send me ones, I’ll be happy to run ’em, I just won’t be actively recruiting them.

And again, apologies to Shawna and Jeff and Kyell and the others!

Main

Works in progress update!

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so here’s a roundup of all my various works in progress and what their status is. In order of work priority:

  1. Collection of novellas owed to 2012 Kickstarter backers, now entitled Walk the Wards. This collection is going to contain four stories: the psychic story currently tentatively titled “A Power in the Blood” (although I’m not entirely happy with that title); the tuba player story; Caitlin and Gabien’s intro story in St. John’s; and, most importantly to anyone who’s read Bone Walker now, an accounting of what happened to Jude in Faerie during that book. I’m about 21,000 total words in on this, which involves the first of the stories being finished, and the other three being simultaneously worked on. The rest of the stories also need titles, and I don’t have them yet.
  2. Queen of Souls. I have received edits back from my editor on this and will be going over them in depth once the novellas are done, or at points when I’m having writer’s block and need something else to do. Right now though my ability to be creative is being more inspired by doing new words, and the novellas ARE still owed and seriously overdue, so they are higher on the queue.
  3. As of yet untitled Book 3 of the Free Court of Seattle series. Actual words have begun being thrown at this, but I have not yet made it out of Chapter 1. New word priority is going to the novellas for now.
  4. Shake the Light, Millicent’s origin story novel for the Warder universe. I have not yet begun actual work on this, past writing out a brief synopsis. This may move further up the queue if events warrant (and by events, I mean, whether or not my agent decides she wants to rep it). Further immediate work on this will probably be along the lines of writing a longer synopsis in case the agent wants it.
  5. Mirror’s Gate, a standalone high fantasy set in the same universe as the Rebels of Adalonia trilogy. Recent work on this involves having ported it finally into Scrivener so that I could re-evaluate it, and see about progressing further on planning it. I’m two chapters and change in on it.
  6. Child of Ocean, Child of Stars, another standalone SFR, starring versions of characters ported out of my days on AetherMUSH: Kaiulani and Benja. This is the story set on an ocean world, where a young telepath has to be the focal point of humanity’s first contact with a shapeshifting, ocean-dwelling species–all while also investigating while a mysterious companion from her childhood might also be the answer to an unsolved double disappearance that has hung over the entire first contact effort. Three chapters and change in on this. Recently ported into Scrivener for re-evaluation.
  7. Shards of Recollection, standalone SFR starring versions of old MUSH characters of mine, Shenner and Tance, ported into an original story. I have a Draft Zero version of this that went in about four chapters before I hit a wall and decided the story needed restructuring, including possibly a different title. Has recently been ported into Scrivener.

And now also, future projects bubbling around in my brain which will eventually receive some planning attention:

  1. A new trilogy in the Warder universe that follows up what I’m laying down in Kendis and Christopher’s story arc, and will pick up with certain critical events involving their grandchildren. Things warned of in Bone Walker will be happening in this storyline, and it will essentially be near-ish-future urban fantasy. This will also require some major planning as I’ll need to extrapolate what I want to do to the world in general as well as with Kendis and Christopher’s family line in particular.
  2. A potential sequel to the Rebels of Adalonia books that would involve several potential followups to what happened in that trilogy: what happens when Faanshi and Julian go to Tantiulo and discover certain hidden portions of Tantiulo’s history that that country really, really doesn’t want Adalonia to know; development of the romance between the new Bhandreid Margaine, and her advisor/ambassador to the elves–Kestar Vaarsen; exploration of the elves attempting to re-establish a homeland; and possible attempts to overthrow Margaine. Generally, it’d be a story about what happens in the turmoil following the massive upheaval in Adalonia following the events of the previous books. Could be a standalone book, could be a trilogy. No planning or words have been done on this yet, but it’s in the back of my brain as a possible project.
  3. Potential sequels to Queen of Souls, because I’m not entirely sure I’m done with that storyline yet. There is potential to be mined in what happens to Hecate and Hermes as a result of the events of Queen of Souls, and I am also sorely tempted by having Aphrodite and Artemis making important on-camera appearances. Possibly while being very, very pissed off at one another. Muaha.
  4. A potential Warder universe story that expands upon a snippet of flash fiction that I posted to the Here Be Magic blog a while back, over here. Mostly because I’d like to figure out who exactly Lillian Hathaway and Merekir are, and what their story is.

I have a lot here to keep me busy, I think! More bulletins as events warrant! What on this list sounds interesting to you?

About Me

The web server is stabilized again! And other fun forthcoming news!

I’m pleased to report that Dara and I have gotten the web server stabilized again, and after quite a few days of work recovering assorted webpages, I can resume proper posting here. Be on the lookout for several Boosting the Signal posts I was going to share with you that I hadn’t been able to thanks to the server going down.

This whole server recovery effort has been particularly enlightening for me, since we discovered that the probable entry point onto our server was via one of the WordPress blogs we host. So I’ve been learning how to tighten up certain aspects of Apache in general and of WordPress in particular. And I’ve pulled a couple of the blogs we host into a general network with my OWN blogs, so that they share space and I can keep a closer eye on all of them. Plus, I’ve been working on porting the website for LexFA (the Lexington SF and Fantasy Association, a fandom group in Kentucky that Dara and I were in while we lived there) into WordPress. It hadn’t been before, and the site was sorely out of date as a result.

I’m glad though that the bulk of this work is over and I can get back to my usual business. Which means actually getting some writing and editing done! Currently on tap: a copyedit pass through Queen of Souls, which is coming off the queue and is very, VERY likely to be released this summer or fall. When I finish that edit pass, I’ll be swinging back to tightening up the now-complete novella currently called “A Power in the Blood”, AND proceeding with the next novella owed to Kickstarter backers. More bulletins on this as events warrant!

Next week there WILL also be a Le Vent du Nord concert report, because I’m going to go see mes gars in Vancouver again at the Rogue, and it will be awesome.

And right on the heels of that, Dara and I are going to Conflikt! This will be particularly exciting this year as Dara is the official Toastmaster Toastmuppet for the convention, marking her first time as a guest of honor at a con. HUGELY exciting. She’ll be performing, of course. And I’ll be contributing by manning a table for her in the convention’s little dealers’ room. Conflikt is a music convention, but since the Bone Walker soundtrack is related to my books, I’ll have copies of Faerie Blood and Bone Walker to sell along with Dara’s music. So if you’re going to Conflikt, come say hi to me at the table! And look for Dara being in charge of proceedings as only she can. (Be sure to duck if you see her going for the heat ray!)

And then in February I will be going back up to Canada AGAIN, this time for a music workshop. Because I got invited to attend a special small workshop being held by none other than Andre Brunet, fiddler for De Temps Antan, and second place contender for the title of Anna’s Favorite Fiddle Player from Quebec. This will be huge, huge fun. Particularly since I have also been informed that these shenanigans will involve a participants concert for anybody attending the workshop who wants to get up and make musical noises.

Which means: I will actually have a chance break out the guitar and sing something, from my years of experience whipping through the Great Big Sea songs I know. Which gives me reason to actually bring the General with me on this trip, as well as various flutes and whistles.

Which further means: I’d be singing Great Big Sea ditties within earshot of someone who has actually performed with Great Big Sea.

(Because as I’ve often liked to relate, both my love of Great Big Sea and my love of Quebec trad can be traced right back to the very same concert, the first time I saw both GBS and La Bottine Souriante, way back in 2000 at Chateau Ste. Michelle. Andre was in La Bottine at the time, though I didn’t know that then!)

And this really kinda blows my mind a bit. *^_^*;; Singing Great Big Sea ditties in earshot of someone who has actually shared a stage with them is only slightly less scary than singing Great Big Sea ditties within earshot of actual Great Big Sea members.

But am I gonna do it? HELL YEAH. I will in fact be whipping out my very best GBS songs for this occasion. I’m thinking “Jack Hinks” and “Trois Navires de Ble”. Hell, this workshop’s featuring a Francophone fiddler, I feel almost obligated to sing something in French, and my options for “things GBS has recorded in French” are pretty minimal! But “Trois Navires de Ble” IS special to me regardless as the very first thing I learned how to play and sing at the same time, the very first thing I learned how to play on an instrument with strings, and the very first thing I learned to sing in French. 😀

The next few weeks are going to ROCK, you guys. I look forward to sharing them with you all!

Short Pieces

Working titles for pending Warder universe novellas finally!

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my writing’s rather stalled out hard after the release of Victory of the Hawk earlier this year. I’ve released a couple of short stories for sale this past summer and fall, but that’s about it. I’ve been struggling to try to find the mental energy to keep going on other projects, and that’s been challenging–partly out of weariness with juggling the Kickstarter obligations with my obligations for Carina, and partly out of the simple fact that I do have a technically challenging day job, and it’s often difficult for me to muster enough mental oomph to pull words out of my brain when I get home from work in the evenings.

But I’ve gotten really tired of that state of affairs, and I think I’ve managed to replenish enough creative stamina to get back to work. SO!

I am very pleased to announce that I finally have some working titles for the three Warder universe novellas that are the final obligations I need to clear off my plate for the 2012 Kickstarter. To refresh everyone’s memories, these novellas are:

  1. What I was previously referring to as my “psychic chick of size” story, in which Elizabeth Breckenridge, a psychic in Providence, Rhode Island, must assist her client Ross Taggart in tracking down what or who murdered his sister Edith, the Warder of the city. This story now has the official working title “A Power in the Blood”. Bonus for those of you who have read Faerie Blood and Bone Walker: Luciriel, Queen of the Unseelie Court, will be making a guest appearance in this story. It’s actively back in being worked on again, thanks to Scrivener!
  2. A story featuring a tuba player who is recruited by the local Warder–a woman who also happens to play in the same community orchestra–to help her guide a migration of supernatural sea creatures when she discovers they’re being hunted. Possible working title for this story: “A Last Sweet Breath of Song”.
  3. And last but most definitely not least, an origin story for Millicent Merriweather, the Warder First of Seattle in Faerie Blood and Bone Walker, and how she first came to Seattle and became its new Warder. The possible working title for this is still kicking around in my head, but it’s likely to involve “Bone” somehow. (I realize this is repetitive given the title of Bone Walker, but there’s also a theme of “blood, breath, and bone” that I’m playing with here. I do however reserve the right to change my mind once I make it around to finishing this story up!)

I don’t have a target release date for these stories yet. I am however going to target finishing “A Power in the Blood”‘s first draft by the end of November, as a sort of unofficial Nanowrimo. December, the plan will be to hand that off to whoever would like to beta read it for me, while I shift over to writing story #2. Then I’ll need to finish writing Millicent’s story.

There is ALSO a potential fourth novella brewing in my head, one which will feature Christopher’s cousin Caitlin Hallett, and her imminent conflict about whether she’s going to take up her father’s mantle and be the next Warder of St. John’s–because she’s about to fall head over heels for Gabien Desroches of les Gardiens of Quebec. And when two young people of the Warder lineage fall in love, somebody is going to have to leave their home. In the meantime? They’ll have to save St. John’s, too.

I am not sure yet whether I will be releasing these stories for individual sale or whether I will do them as a collection. If I do the latter, chances are very high it will be under the title Walking the Wards.

Stand by for more data on this as it happens!

Faerie Blood

Faerie Blood sales numbers to date

Earlier this month author Kameron Hurley posted this writeup of what an author can reasonably expect in terms of sales numbers throughout the lifetime of a book. It’s interesting reading and I recommend it, just on general principles of managing your expectations if you’re trying to get something published.

Now, mind you, she’s focusing on traditional publishing on this post. But she refers to a couple of numbers I want to call out that are of particular interest to me. This:

The average book sells 3000 copies in its lifetime (Publishers Weekly, 2006).

And also this:

The average traditionally published book which sells 3,000 in its entire lifetime in print only sells about 250-300 copies its first year.

Now let me throw you a couple of numbers for Faerie Blood, which is hands down my best-selling title to date.

I do not have complete and accurate numbers for sales of Faerie Blood‘s Drollerie Press edition, given that I was never given a complete accounting of all the sales I’m pretty sure it made. My best estimates are that between 2009 and 2011, it scored somewhere between 300 and 500 sales.

Faerie Blood‘s second edition, released to public sale following my 2012 Kickstarter, is closing in on the 1,000 sales mark as of this writing. My spreadsheet that I use to track sales currently has a total of 932 sales in it.

This means that overall, since its original release in 2009, Faerie Blood has achieved somewhere between 1,200 and 1,500 sales.

Which in turn means that it has achieved somewhere around the vicinity of half the sales that a traditionally published book can expect in its lifetime.

And so far, I’m still regularly selling copies. Since Faerie Blood‘s second edition release, I have not gone a single month without selling at least one copy on Amazon.com. And sometime in the next few months, maybe even before the end of the year, it’s very plausible that I will hit the 1,000 sales mark for the second edition all by itself.

Would I have done better if I’d chosen to pursue traditional publishing with this book? Possibly. Possibly not. But I am very grateful that the book’s done as well as it has, particularly as a self-published title. Many thanks to all who have bought it, and who continue to support it by spreading the word to friends and/or posting reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s numbers like these that encourage me to continue carving out my tiny little space in the vast world of online publishing–because, slowly but surely, y’all are finding my stories.

And I hope you’ll stick around for more.

Site Updates

Some items of interest, including a crowdfund!

Some of y’all may have noticed that I’ve rearranged the look of the main book pages for Faerie Blood, Bone Walker, Valor of the Healer, Vengeance of the Hunter, and Victory of the Hawk–not only the individual novel pages, but also the overall Books and Rebels of Adalonia landing pages. This is to finally take advantage of some functionality I brought in with my current theme, but also some plugins I’ve installed to get some Bootstrap fun going on.

You’ll see this new functionality in the various buttons on these pages. This all lets me clean the pages up considerably, make them shorter and better organized, and less of a “huge collection of links”. Plus, I get to better emphasize the various blurbs and immediate calls to action at the tops of each page.

I also removed the sidebar from those pages, since the sidebar is something I wanted to keep specifically for the blog section of the site. This change is for two reasons: one, to make the book pages less busy, and two, to make them render more nicely on phone-sized screens.

I may continue to tweak the layouts of things, so if you see something suddenly start to look different, don’t be surprised by that! And if you see anything that actually looks broken, please let me know.

***

I’ve been working on an updated version of the short story “The Disenchanting of Princess Cerridwen”, since the version currently on the site is out of date now that the Rebels of Adalonia trilogy is complete. The new version will have an editing pass, and some tweaks to correct details that were specifically mentioned in Victory of the Hawk.

I’m hoping to do the same thing with this story that I did with “The Blood of the Land”, and release it as a standalone download to the various places I sell my titles. But first, I’ve got to get it some proper cover art. More bulletins on this as events warrant!

***

After seeing one of the best-selling Carina authors post results of a survey of her readers, and specifically noting how a bunch of them reported that Facebook is a source of data for them about finding new books, I’ve been doing an experiment this month. Namely, I’m running ads on Facebook to promote the Rebels books as well as Faerie Blood.

I know, I know–I wince at the idea of actually throwing money at Facebook, but it is important to note that I have had a significant uptick in daily traffic around here with these ads being live. And a notable, if small, uptick in sales as well. So far, this experiment does appear to be valuable. And if Facebook actually can result in me selling books to people who haven’t previously discovered me, hey, I’ll get over any willies about throwing money at them!

ALSO: if anyone reading this did in fact come over because of finding me at Facebook, hi there! Do please feel free to say hi.

***

Last but not least, I’ve just thrown a contribution to this IndieGogo campaign for an anthology to celebrate ten years of The Future Fire. I follow their Twitter account, and moreover, my pal Su J. Sokol, who I’ve featured on Boosting the Signal, will appear in this anthology.

So consider checking this out, won’t you? Thank you!

(Speaking of Su, I owe her book a review. I hope to get that posted soon, so keep an eye out for that!)