Q1 Noveling Progress

It's the first quarter of 2020, and I've managed to write almost every day. Often less than a thousand words, but lately it's been close to a couple thousand. When I started my current WiP on December 1, I had high hopes of finishing the first draft by the end of January. That didn't happen. 

Reason #1: I decided to spend a couple weeks revising BackTracker so I could get it out the door before a certain publisher closed submissions. 

Reason #2: I had a novel release to celebrate, and that stole my focus away from the WiP for a few days.

Reason #3: I was a little stuck, truth be told, and didn't know where the plot was going. But that's been remedied, and the words are flowing like warm molasses again.

I've reached the 50K mark and plan to scribble another 30K before I start typing it up, revising and editing as I go. Current working title: PHAZE. (How's that for not giving anything away?) My goal this year is to draft four novels, one per quarter. I have notes ready to go for three, each in a different series, so I know what I'll be working on after Phaze. I've never written more than two novels in a year before, so we'll see what happens. Succeed or fail, I'll be writing. Thanks for joining me on this adventure!

A New Trilogy Begins...

The meek have not inherited 
the earth.

The world isn't how they left it. When the bunker airlocks release them after twenty years in hibernation, the survivors find a silent, barren landscape outside. But they are not alone. There is a presence here, alive in the dust—spirits of the earth, benevolent and malicious as they interact with the human remnant.

Milton is haunted by a violent past he's unable to escape, despite the superhuman speed the spirits give him. Not interested in bearing the next generation, Daiyna is determined to destroy the flesh-eating mutants lurking in the dark, pierced by her night-vision. Luther is a man of conviction who believes the Creator has offered humankind a second chance, yet he's uncertain they deserve it—and he's perplexed by the talons that flex out of his fingers. Willard is a brilliant engineer-turned-soldier who refuses to leave his bunker, afraid of becoming infected and willing to destroy any obstacle in his way. 

As their lives collide, the mysteries of this strange new world start unraveling, culminating in the ultimate life-or-death decision one survivor will make for them all.

Order your copy today:  Amazon

2019 in Review + Cover Reveal

This year was all about my novels: writing, editing, revising, and at long last, signing book deals! 2020 is shaping up to be a good one with six of my books tentatively scheduled for release throughout the year. The first Captain Quasar novel will be re-released, and the other five are brand spankin' new. First on deck is After the Sky, Book 1 in my Spirits of the Earth trilogy. I'm really liking the cover art, and I can't wait to share these characters with you.

Book Deals Signed: 4
Spirits of the Earth Trilogy Aethon Books
Captain Quasar & the Space-Time Conundrum Aethon Books
Captain Quasar & the Mass-Exodus Reversal Aethon Books
Madame Antic's Hotel Grotesque Montag Press Collective

Novels Written: 2+
Captain Quasar & the Mass-Exodus Reversal — 80K
City of Glass (Spirits of the Earth Book 3) — 125K
Current Work-in-Progress — 28K

Novels on Submission: 2
Those Who Wait

Short Stories Published: 2
"Absolute Magnitude" in Theme of Absence
"Monochromatic Mandate" in Factor Four Magazine

Short Stories on Submission: 10

Audiobooks Released: 4

Audiobooks in Production: 2
The Gifted Ones
After the Sky

Blog Posts: 25

Back Aboard the 1K a Day Train

I started drafting a new novel on December 1, and I've managed to write 15,000 words so far. My goal is between 30K-40K per month, so I'll have the first draft done by the end of January. This past summer, I was able to write 120K in two months, so we'll see if I can reach 80K during the school year. It's a whole different beast, energy-wise.

After spending August through November on edits and revisions, it's good to be creating content again. These are characters I know pretty well, and I'm enjoying their latest adventure. I decided to take a break from my laptop and scribble this one longhand in a composition book, like I used to. It's keeping me focused on forward momentum instead of revising as I go, but it does take longer.

In other news, I submitted nine short stories that have been collecting dust to a variety of publications, most of them new to me. Here's hoping a few tales find good homes. On the novel front, my publisher shared the final cover art for the Captain Quasar books, and they're looking good — nearly as impressive as the art for my Spirits of the Earth trilogy. Stay tuned for a slew of cover reveals early next year!

Madame Antic's Hotel Grotesque
It's taken six years and thirty-four submissions, but I've finally found a publisher willing to release my novel Madame Antic's Hotel Grotesque in all of its gory goodness out into the world: Montag Press Collective. They pride themselves on being purveyors of the finest weird fiction in all its forms, and there's definitely a Fahrenheit 451 vibe going on with their logo and motto. As a big fan of Ray Bradbury, I approve. Apparently, they receive a hundred submissions every month and only publish a dozen titles each year, so I'm honored to have made the cut. Edits are scheduled to begin in a few months, with a release date toward the end of 2020. What's the storyline? Glad you asked:

In an alternate Victorian era, factory worker Anthony Reynolds desires to improve his station in life. He joins Richard Laurent, a gregarious coworker with social connections, for a night out after their late shift. Richard leads them deep into the city's underworld to a brothel of sorts specializing in the illegal art of mutilation: Madame Antic's Hotel Grotesque. There Anthony witnesses victims who have been skinned, broken, and mangled without lasting damage, thanks to a special drug that returns them to their original state. Anthony immediately wants to leave, but Richard convinces him to stay. 

When Constables raid the establishment, Anthony flees the scene, running into a giant tumor of a man who spills a viscous fluid. Anthony is instantly disfigured by the substance, and when the authorities capture him, he is unable to identify himself, let alone speak. One Constable takes an interest in him and trawls his mind to find out if he met the Cancer Man (an untouchable crime lord) face to face. What follows is a mind-bending adventure of mistaken identity, multiple realities, and paranoia as Anthony fights to reclaim a simple life he never truly appreciated but now wants more than anything.

Revisioning Update

After seven weeks of time-scrounging during lunch breaks, after work, and weekends, the second draft of Book 3 in my Spirits of the Earth trilogy is DONE. I'm happy with how it turned out, especially the ending. The final line brings everything back to what I had in mind from the start: a supernatural, post-apocalyptic homage to Milton's Paradise Lost. Once I go over the feedback from my first and favorite reader (Mrs. Fowler), I'll give it another couple rounds of edits, then send it off to my publisher. Aethon Books will be giving this trilogy the fast-release treatment next year, so readers won't have long to wait between installments (in hardcover, paperback, eBook, and audio). It's crazy to think I've been carrying these characters in my head for the past twelve years, and that I'm finally going to be sharing them with the world.

In other news, I signed a contract with Aethon for Book 2 in the Captain Quasar series, which will also be released next year. And I've got a few ideas percolating for a Book 3 that I might start drafting over Christmas break. Stay tuned for details...

The Gifted Ones - Now in Production

I received some good news a couple months ago: Robert Rossmann, who did such a great job producing The Suprahuman Secret audiobook, agreed to produce the sequel as well. But, being the busy guy he is, he said it could be a while before he started sending the audio files for me to approve. So we set December 1 as the start date.

Then, out of the blue yesterday, I received the first 15 minutes of The Gifted Ones. We're officially in production! It's so good to hear Mr. Rossmann embodying my future-noir detective Charlie Madison again, and I can't wait to hear how it all turns out.

Captain Quasar - The Sequel

The novel I finished drafting back in April is now out the door and in the hands of the editorial staff at Aethon Books. No contract yet (stay tuned); for the time being, it feels good just to have this project completed and all polished up. It had to sit patiently on the sidelines over the summer while I drafted Book 3 in my Spirits of the Earth trilogy, but for the past month or so, it's received my undivided attention—as well as my wife's. She's not only my first reader but my first editor to boot, and her constructive critique always steers me toward a much tighter story overall. God definitely knew what He was doing when He brought us together!

The working title is The Mass-Exodus Reversal, and it's a direct sequel to The Space-Time Conundrum that came out four years ago. (Note to self: don't take four years to write the next Captain Quasar misadventure.) What's it about? Here's the blurb-in-progress:

Captain Quasar is on a mission. Centuries have passed since evil Emperor Zhan attacked Earth and sent humankind packing in a mass exodus. Now the human race is scattered throughout the galaxy, and United World Space Command is no more. Captain Bartholomew Quasar and the crew of the Effervescent Magnitude have one purpose: to reunite the descendants of Earth's diaspora and save their planet from the monstrous machines Zhan left behind to ensure Earth's ultimate demise. Quasar and his intrepid crew will have to brave dangerous aliens, killer robots, vicious space pirates, and a mysterious artificial intelligence in order to build the United Earth Fleet and return home, where all new perils await.

10 Years Ago

Hard to believe it's been a decade since I started submitting my short stories for publication. The adventure began when I sold "Hero for Hire" in the fall of 2009. It wasn't published until January 2010, but that first sale really got my blood pumping. And thanks to all the sales that followed, I've been energized to write, submit, and sell my work ever since.

I started writing fiction when I was twelve, but submitting work for publication was never a goal during those early years. As I grew up, got a job, and made less time for my writing, I figured pursuing publication might be something I'd do when I was old (like...forty), or when I retired from teaching. Someday far, far away.

It wasn't until I met my wife, and she encouraged me to submit my work, that I ventured down this path. In 2007 and 2008, I submitted a slew of queries to agents and publishers. I had three novels ready to go, but alas, there were no takers. Then a couple years later, a parent of one of my students suggested the short story market as a way to establish myself as a writer and accumulate some publication credits along the way. I figured I had nothing to lose.

Since then, 120 of my short stories have been published along with a plethora of haiku and microfiction. The success of my short fiction has motivated me to never give up on my longer work. If there's one thing I've learned over the past decade, it's this: somewhere out there is an editor or publisher who will want to share my stories with the world; I just have to find them.

And that goes for my novels, too.

Spirits of the Earth Trilogy - Update

Thanks to my recent 2K/day writing regimen, I finished the first draft of Book 3 in my Spirits of the Earth trilogy this week. 129,000 words in two months is a personal record; the closest I've ever come before was 80,000 in three months, and that was five years ago. In that case as well as this one, I had a publisher already lined up, so I'm thinking that makes a big difference motivation-wise.

As far as genre, this trilogy is a supernatural, post-apocalyptic homage to John Milton's Paradise Lost. There's a lot of action and adventure, plenty of conflict between survivors, and the world expands with each book to include new locations and characters. There's time-jumping without time travel. There are mutants and superpowers but no superheroes. It's the end of the world but the beginning of something exciting and unpredictable.

Redemption is a major theme as characters come to grips with who they are after devastating loss. Stewardship over the earth and its creatures, as well as good overcoming evil, are also central. After the darkness and violence of Book 2, I wanted Book 3 to leave readers on a high note, satisfied with the journey I've taken them on and pleased with the way things turn out for these characters they've been rooting for along the way.

After a few months of revisions, rewrites, and edits, I'll have it all polished up and ready to send to my publisher. Until then, I'm giving it a little space while I figure out a few ways to really make it shine. As a reader, I know what it's like to be disappointed by the final book in a series, and I'm determined not to let that happen with Spirits of the Earth.
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