Back in Utah

So! It’s been a while since I updated this blog, and there’s actually a good reason for it. I quit my day job in Iowa a couple of weeks ago and just moved back to Provo. In other words, I made the pioneer trek in the wrong direction and repented.

Driving across Wyoming, I got a small sense of what my pioneer ancestors must have felt as they made the trek to Utah. Compared to Iowa and eastern Nebraska, Wyoming is a lonely, windswept wasteland. It’s not quite as empty as Nevada, but wow, is it a forlorn place. Beautiful, but lonely.

After passing through Evanston, route 80 descends from an attitude of about 7,000 feet into the mountain valley’s of northern Utah. I have to say, the stretch between Evanston and Park City is gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. From there, I came down the eastern side of the Wasatch mountains through Heber and Provo canyon, which is also gorgeous this time of year. Fall foliage, with just a little bit of snow on the highest peaks.

It’s good to be back. I’m renting a room from my friend and cowriter Scott Bascom, who is letting me pay him back in labor to clean and improve his house. He went through a series of major life crises in the last couple of years, and a back injury prevents him from getting the house back in shape. That’s where I come in. It’s a suitable arrangement for both of us and I think it will work out quite well, especially once we get a virtuous cycle going with our writing.

That’s my going to be my focus for the next several months: writing. I have a very aggressively release schedule for the first half of 2018, and a much better business foundation after taking a small business class in Iowa. I also saved up enough money from the old day job that I can afford to focus exclusively on writing and publishing for the next several months. So that’s the plan.

In 2014, I had my first 4-figure month and thought I was doing well enough to go full time in the near future. But looking back, I can see that I didn’t have the foundation set up to sustain a profitable business. The market shifted, the things I was doing to sell suddenly didn’t work anymore, and I made some stupid mistakes that drastically hurt my business. But I learned a lot from all that, and now I’m coming back with a much better foundation, a detailed plan for how to build on it, and enough experience to know how and when to abandon that plan as circumstances change.

Lots of stuff to talk about on that end, but I’ll leave it there for now. One thing you can definitely expect, though, is for the Sons of the Starfarers series to be complete before the end 2018–hopefully before the summer. Also, Gunslinger to the Galaxy should be out next year as well. And if you’re a fan of print books, I hope to put out a paperback of every book that I’ve written in the not so distant future. Audiobooks too, in the long run.

So if you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for my email newsletter, since that’s the best way to stay abreast of my new releases. I’m not always as good at posting about them here as I should be. Also, now that the big move back to Utah is complete, expect to see more on this blog.

So long, and thanks for reading!

Early October Update

Holy crap, so much to discuss. Where should I begin?

First, the writing is coming along well. I’m doing a quick revision of Patriots in Retreat to get it ready for publication in January. It’s actually much better than I remember. Hopefully the same can be said of A Queen in Hiding, because I’m finishing that one next.

My goal is to have A Queen in Hiding up for preorder by the time Patriots in Retreat goes live. To do that, I need to have them both published by the beginning of January. It doesn’t get any easier, either, because An Empire in Disarray needs to be up for preorder before A Queen in Hiding goes live in March, and I haven’t even started that one yet!

It’s a pretty demanding schedule, but that’s good, because I need more practice at keeping deadlines and schedules. And if all goes well, the Sons of the Starfarers series will be complete by summer 2018.

On the publishing end of things, I’m making some changes to my pricing strategy after reading an interesting post by Dean Wesley Smith. Will probably do a longer blog post on that topic. It’s all an experiment, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

So much other stuff happening on the publishing / marketing ends of things. I’m getting ready to put out print versions of everything I’ve published. That’s going to take a while. Also, I want to start experimenting with audiobooks. Lots of fantastic new opportunities have opened up there, and I need to figure out how best to take advantage of them.

On a more personal note, Friday was my last day at the day job. Good company and good people, but the work schedule was too inflexible, and it’s more important right now to pursue my writing career. With the money I’ve managed to save, I plan to move back to Utah and spend a few months working exclusively on the writing and publishing. Expect to see big things from me in the not so distant future!

All of my books and stories, in series order

A friend of mine recently asked me to give him a list of all my books in series order. That was just the kick in the pants I needed to put this page together. For your convenience, I’m putting it up as a blog post too. The links to all the book pages will appear on the series page as soon as I can get around to it.

Joe Vasicek

Gaia Nova

The Gaia Nova books are all mid-sized novels (75k to 110k words). It is a far-future space opera series that takes place in a galactic empire long after Earth has been lost to legend. They can be read in any order, but they take place in the same universe with recurring characters. They are listed in the order in which they were published. Heart of the Nebula is a direct sequel to Bringing Stella Home.

Bringing Stella Home
Desert Stars
Stars of Blood and Glory
Heart of the Nebula
Mercenary Savior (forthcoming)
Empress of the Last Free Stars (forthcoming)

Star Wanderers

The Star Wanderers books are novellas (15k to 35k). They take place in the same universe as Gaia Nova one thousand years earlier. The first four books are linear, while the last four books are parallaxes of the first four, from the point of view of the side characters.

Outworlder
Fidelity
Sacrifice
Homeworld
Dreamweaver
Benefactor
Reproach
Deliverance

The Jeremiah Chronicles (Omnibus 1-4)
Tales of the Far Outworlds (Omnibus 5-6)

Sons of the Starfarers

The Sons of the Starfarer books are short novels (35k to 45k words) that take place in the same universe as Star Wanderers, with a few recurring minor characters from those books. It is a linear series.

Brother in Exile
Comrades in Hope
Strangers in Flight
Friends in Command
Captives in Obscurity
Patriots in Retreat (forthcoming)
A Queen in Hiding (forthcoming)
An Empire in Disarray (forthcoming)
Victors in Liberty (forthcoming)

Sons of the Starfarers (Omnibus 1-3)

Gunslinger Trilogy

These books are all short to mid-sized novels (50k to 90k words). They take place about 40 years in the future, after Earth makes contact with the galactics.

Gunslinger to the Stars
Gunslinger to the Galaxy (forthcoming)
Gunslinger to Earth (forthcoming)

The Twelfth Sword Trilogy

These epic fantasy books are all mid-sized to long novels (85k words and up).

The Sword Keeper (forthcoming)
The Sword Bearer (forthcoming)
The Sword Mistress (forthcoming)

Genesis Earth Trilogy

These are all mid-sized novels (about 70k words) that take place in the near to mid-future.

Genesis Earth
Edenfall (forthcoming)
The Stars of Redemption (forthcoming)

Short Stories and Novelettes

Below are all of my short stories and novelettes, in the order in which they were published. If they first appeared in a magazine or anthology, I’ve included that in parentheses.

Decision LZ1527 (Leading Edge Magazine, December 2009)
Memoirs of a Snowflake
A Hill on Which to Die
Starchild
L’enfer, c’est la Solitude
(Perehilion SF, March 2016)
The Curse of the Lifewalker
(Sci Phi Journal, June 2016)
The Gettysburg Paradox
Utahraptors at Dawn
Welcome to Condescension
Killing Mister Wilson
My Name is For My Friends
Jane Carter of Earth and the Rescue that Never Was
The Open Source Time Machine

J.M. Wight

Short Stories

Worlds Without Number

End of May update

So it’s the end of another month, and I’m happy to report that things are going well. Gunslinger to the Stars has had a decent release, and seems to be on its way to grow into its natural readership. I don’t want to push it too hard just yet, better to wait until a few reviews and also boughts come in. But I can push the short story, “Jane Carter of Earth and the Rescue that Never Was.” Will be interesting to see whether that garners interest in the novel.

On the writing front, I’m making good progress on Patriots in Retreat, my current WIP. The plan is to finish the last four Sons of the Starfarers books in quick succession, in order to release them one after another in the beginning of 2018. The covers are all done, and the editing shouldn’t be too expensive, so if I can knock all these books off over the summer, I’ll be in good shape.

The goal is to write each one of them in four weeks, with a week-long buffer between each draft. I’m trying out a new writing method—actually, a method I used to use when I was a kid but laid aside when I wrote my first novel. Instead of writing several distinct drafts, I’m cycling through the previous day’s work in order to produce a more clean first draft.

When I wrote my first novel, the goal was just to finish the thing, so instead of trying to fix all the problems with it as I went along, I prioritized getting to the end. Needless to say, that hot mess of a novel will never see the light of day. But for some reason, I’ve stuck with that method of writing ever since, sometimes to great detriment. Heart of the Nebula took several years to complete because the first two drafts were full of plot holes, worldbuilding inconsistencies, and totally useless characters.

Of course, back then I was a much less experienced writer and needed some emotional distance in order to figure out how to fix my own work. But now, I think I’ve got a pretty good handle of it. So we’ll try out the cycling thing with these books and see how it goes.

I did recently reread the first book, Brothers in Exile. Have to say, it’s not my best work. Not that the story itself is bad, but the writing is pretty poor and needs a good polish. Also, some of the character reactions are off. There’s a bit more melodrama than I’d like, and not enough consistency.

Again, nothing in need of a complete overhaul. Just a touch up. And maybe this is more just a recognition of how much my writing has improved over the last couple of years (at least, I hope that’s what it is). But once the last four books are done, I plan to take a couple of weeks to really touch it up.

In other news, The Sword Keeper, my first fantasy novel, is just about finished and on track for a September release. There’s a couple of issues my first readers have pointed out, but it’s more a question of patching the sails than bringing her into drydock and building a new hull. The next big step after sending it off to the editor is to find a good cover artist. I’ll probably post a classified on Deviantart, see who bites.

I really want an illustrated cover, not one of these photo-realistic things that all tend to blend together (or worse, copy the same stock photos). Those do tend to be a bit more expensive, but for my first fantasy novel, I’m willing to pay a little more.

On the publishing side of things, I’ve got a short story single and a short story bundle lined up for June. It didn’t seem fair to release the one story as a single only to release it a couple months later in a bundle, so I’m doing them both together. The cover is pretty spiffy—I’ll be sure to do a reveal later this week.

And that just about does it. Lots of things to do on the publishing side, lots of stories to write on the writing side, but it’s all coming together and I think you’ll really enjoy how it turns out. Take care!

What’s going on with Sons of the Starfarers?

ssf-i-large-coverssf-ii-large-coverssf-iii-large-coverssf-iv-large-coverssf-v-large-coverSSF-VI (cover)

I don’t know how many people are looking forward to the last four Sons of the Starfarers books, but I feel like I owe you an explanation for what is (or rather, isn’t) going on with the series.

I started the series back in 2014, after publishing the last Star Wanderers novella. Star Wanderers was an experiment with the trendy advice among indie authors at the time, to split up a wider story arc into lots of short books in a linear series, with the first one permanently free.

For the first two years, the experiment paid off—so much so that I decided to write another series using the same trendy publishing advice. That series was Sons of the Starfarers.

But then, things started to go downhill. Amazon introduced Kindle Unlimited, and the algorithms changed in ways that no longer favored the trendy publishing advice. Star Wanderers began to languish, and Sons of the Starfarers never took off in the way I’d hoped that it would. Up to this point, 90% of my sales were on Amazon. Needless to say, my career took an enormous hit.

Most indie authors in my position reacted by going all in with Kindle Unlimited. Essentially, they dumped 2012’s trendy advice for 2014’s trendy advice. I took the opposite tact and went back to basics.

This still left the awkward question of what to do with the unfinished Sons of the Starfarers series. Abandon it? That was unthinkable. But it wasn’t practical to finish it either, seeing as I needed something that would actually pay the bills.

So I kicked it around for a couple of years, working on it between other projects but not making it a huge priority. In this way, I wrote and published Friends in Command and Captives in Obscurity. But as more time passed, it soon became clear that this wouldn’t work. The books were getting harder to write as I became more distanced from the story, and releasing them piecemeal wasn’t exactly boosting sales of the previous books in the series.

A couple of days ago, I wrote up a publishing schedule for 2017. My goal is to have a new release every month. A couple of novels are on the schedule, including Gunslinger to the Stars and The Sword Keeper, but as of now there are no Sons of the Starfarers books.

This is not because I’m abandoning the series, however. Far from it. My goal is to release all of the last four books together, within a month of each other. In order to do this properly, I’m going to write them all together in one big sprint, probably sometime next year.

I haven’t planned out everything yet, but I do have all the titles figured out. They are:

  • Brothers in Exile
  • Comrades in Hope
  • Strangers in Flight
  • Friends in Command
  • Captives in Obscurity
  • Patriots in Retreat
  • A Queen in Hiding
  • An Empire in Disarray
  • Victors in Liberty

If I had the money, I would commission all of the covers right now (my poor cover designer thought this job would be finished a year ago—at least he got an advance!), but what money I have needs to go toward producing Gunslinger to the Stars. No idea how long it will take. And the books themselves probably won’t come out until 2018.

So don’t worry, I have not and will not abandon this series. If you’re waiting, I apologize for taking so long, and also for the fact that you’re probably going to be waiting a while longer. But the good news is that when the last four books do come out, they will come out in quick succession. So there’s only one more big wait. Hopefully that’s good news.

Sorry!