I have signed with a literary agent. I am now working diligently to get the manuscript in the best possible shape before we submit it to publishers. I know I don’t update the website often, so I thought I would share the news. It’s been an exciting few weeks, and I’m eager to begin this new phase of my writing life. Hopefully I’ll have more news to share in the coming months.
My wife has often told me that one of the fundamental things she understood about me from the time that we were first together was that she knew, in order for me to be happy, I would have to live a life where I was engaged in the act of creation. Early on in our relationship, that involved writing songs and trying to put together a band, but, from the age of twenty-three till the present day, I have happily dedicated myself to the craft of writing.
What a ride it’s been. In 2015, after a year of struggling on a long-abandoned literary novel, I made the transition to writing works of a more, shall we say, fantastical nature. It ended up being one of the best decisions of my life. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t had its fair share of ups and downs. I’ve long been a perfectionist, just as I’ve long understood that my perfectionistic mindset serves as both one of my biggest strengths and biggest weaknesses. In order to break free from the rigid writing structure that my perfectionistic mindset often trapped me in, for the first time in my life I allowed myself to work on multiple projects simultaneously, and to set projects aside for long stretches of time if my inspiration waned. This being antithetical to my general modus operandi, I have spent parts of the last six years battling the guilt I felt from leaving certain projects uncompleted. But instead of giving into the guilt and forcing the work, I’ve tried to accept the discomfort while continuing to work on multiple projects with a sense of play. Over time, the multiple projects have come into shape at varying speeds. At no point in my life have I ever accrued such a backlog of creative work.
Last month, I completed the first of my multiple WIPs. It’s a novel, the original side project of all my side projects. I’m proud of it. I don’t know when it will see the light of day, but I’m excited about the prospect of getting it in front of the eyes of some industry folk to see what they make of it. Depending on the outcome, I’ll decide upon the next steps in my writing life.
I have felt for a long time that my decision to work on multiple projects at once may result in my finishing multiple projects close together. But instead of predicting what the future holds, I will simply say for now that I’m happy to have finished one, and I hope in the (near?) future to be able to share some of what I’ve been working on.
Now, back to it….
As I haven’t updated the website in a while, I thought I’d drop in with a blog post and give everyone an update on my current writing projects.
For the better part of the past year and a half, I’ve been working on a major epic fantasy novel. The novel is my answer to the question: “If you were going to write a big-ass fantasy novel, what would it look like?” So far I’ve written about 47K words. (I know, I know, I’m a slow writer). I also have a novella (novellete?) in hand that is set in the same world as the major epic fantasy novel. I finished the novella–entitled Last Performance at the Three Dragons Inn–before I ever wrote word one of the novel. I’ve toyed around with the idea of releasing the novella as a stopgap while I finish my current projects, but, every time I give it serious consideration, I know in my heart of hearts that it would be better if I wait until the novel is finished before deciding on how to best introduce both projects to the world.
Does the novel have a working title?
Yes. But I’m going to keep the title to myself for now. It’s had a working title from the outset, but last month I made a small change to the title that I’m quite pleased with. I feel 90% confident that the current title will stick.
What are you willing to share about the project at this time?
Not a lot. But I’ll share a little. The setting is medievalesque, with twists. There are three POV characters. The book indulges my deep love of trees. A lot of the conflict in the book is driven by two separate religions. And yes, there are dragon(s).
Okay, moving on. Five years ago, when I was writing Book One in the abandoned trilogy that shall not be named, I began breaking up the project by working on a genre-busting fantasy novel with literary pretensions. Excepting one year when I set the novel aside entirely, I have continued to work on this book as a side project, and, amazingly, I’m getting fairly close to finishing it. The novel is divided into three parts, and, as of this blog post, I’m perhaps 1/3 of the way through Part III. I’ve written 57K words and I think it will wrap up somewhere between 70K and 80K.
I usually work on this novel one-to-two sittings a week, so it’s slow-going. During the past summer I made quite the dent in it, as I was able to carve out enough writing time to work on both projects once a day, but, when the teaching year resumed, I had to cut back. I tried (for a short time) devoting my energies to finishing this project before returning to the epic fantasy novel, but my psyche didn’t appreciate that particular decision, so I quickly reverted to keeping this novel as my side project. I think there’s an outside chance I’ll finish the novel by this summer, but, if not, hopefully it won’t be too long thereafter.
Does this novel have a title?
Oh yes. I love the title. It’s one of my favorite things about the book. But I’m not going to share it. Not yet.
One last bit of business. For those of you who are fans of The Deer King series, I want you to know that I do intend to return to the series at some point. But, for the time being, I’m giving my heart and soul to the two projects above. Once they’re finished, then I’ll make a decision as to whether it’s the right time to jump back into the world of The Deer King.
Okay, that’s it! Thanks to everyone who keeps up with my writing life. I hope you are all doing well in this crazy, topsy-turvy world we live in.
“Nothing hurts me more than saying what I don’t mean or saying mean things.” — Exquisite Mariposa by Fiona Alison Duncan
Dave Chappelle, addressing his fellow comedians: “You have a responsibility to speak recklessly.”
Exquisite Mariposa by Fiona Alison Duncan
Skunk Train by Joe Clifford
Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
The Darkness That Comes Before by R. Scott Baker (This book was a Christmas present from my wife; she does her best every year to find a book that I’ve somehow missed that she thinks I’ll enjoy. It looks like a fantasy home run. It’s next on my reading list after I finish Skunk Train.)
The Plantaganets: The Warrior Kings and Queens who made England: by Dan Jones.
An excellent profile on N.K. Jemisin by the New Yorker: N.K. Jemisin’s Dream Worlds
Two weeks ago I finished a 12,000 word (let’s call it a novelette) that takes place in my newly created fantasy universe. The novelette is entitled Last Performance at the Three Dragons Inn. I’ve also been working on a novel set in the same universe. The novelette is of a length that isn’t accepted by most fantasy magazines, so I don’t have many options publication-wise. I’m targeting three publications that I respect. If it’s not accepted, I intend to publish the novelette through my publishing company, Knock-Knee Books.
The novel is, without a doubt, happening. I’m 13,000 words in and I have a very clear idea of where the story is heading. It’s going to take time (likely two to three years), but it will be finished. I am extremely excited about what I’ve written so far, and I hope that one day you’ll be able to see why.
The Deer King Series
What about The Deer King series, you ask? After finishing Last of the Baronites, I started novella #4, only to decide about seven pages in that I had taken a wrong turn at the outset of the book. It was then that I decided to take a short break from the series, which freed me up to work on my recently finished novelette. From day one I knew there was a strong likelihood that I would branch off to work on other projects before completing the series. I view The Deer King as a lifelong project; I envision the series containing twenty-five novellas when it’s over. Now that I’ve finished my novelette, I’m in the process of deciding whether to begin work on novella four in The Deer King series or whether to knock out one more short story.
As a full-time public school teacher, husband, and father (and part-time volunteer political activist), my writing time is subject to certain constraints. That being said, I have a nighttime writing block that I honor six days a week, and I can often scrounge up three or four hours during the week for additional writing. In the past I would work exclusively on one project at a time, but I’ve recently discovered that working on two projects simultaneously has its advantages, and I hope to make that a staple of my writing life going forward. At some point (perhaps as early as the next week), The Deer King series will once again become a part of my writing life. We’ll see.
The Foals: Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost: Part I
The Foals: Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost: Part II
I’m partial to Part I. Both albums are a little messy and a little grandiose. Both are chock-full of fantastic tunes. Pitchfork tells me that I shouldn’t love these albums, but I do.
Writing Update: Novella Four of The Deer King series: 2K. It does have a working title that I’m keeping to myself for now. I will go ahead and share that the fourth novella is told from the POV of Emmaline Rain.
I’ll return sometime in September with my regularly scheduled blog post. Until then, thanks so much to everyone for reading and supporting the series.