Late November Update

Is it time for another update? Why yes, I suppose it is.

Sons of the Starfarers is coming along quite well. Book 6, Patriots in Retreat, is up for preorder right now with a release date of January 19th. My editor just got back with the edits for book 7, A Queen in Hiding. Haven’t had a chance to look through those yet, but I will in the near future. Come January, that book will be up for preorder as well, with a release date of March 16th.

Right now, I’m writing book 8, An Empire in Disarray, with a hard deadline of 22 December (just before Christmas). Normally, I’d be panicking right now, but I’m trying out a new outlining method that seems to be working quite well. If everything works out the way I hope, I’ll finish up book 9 sometime in February and move on to other projects.

Looking back, it was a mistake to set out to write a nine-book series before knowing how the first one would do. If I could go back to 2009 and do it all over again, I’d stick to trilogies, where the first book stands well enough alone that I can abandon the other two books if it doesn’t gain much traction. That’s going to be my modus operandi from here on out.

So here are the trilogies I need to finish:

Genesis Earth Trilogy

This one has been outstanding for a long time. The first book did much better than I was expecting, and while its popularity has fallen off in recent years, it still gets very good reviews. For a first novel, I’m honestly surprised that this book has done as well as it has.

The second book, Edenfall, is still on the back burner for now. Partially written, partially outlined, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of months to get it done when I finally sit down to finish it.

As for book three, The Stars of Redemption, I have no idea because I haven’t even outlined it yet. Perhaps that’s what I need to get the ball rolling: outline the last book, so I know what has to happen in the second book. In any case.

Gunslingers Trilogy

Gunslinger to the Stars hasn’t done as well as I would have liked, but I enjoy this universe so much that I’m going to finish the trilogy if for no other reason than the fun of it. I’ve already written the first four or five chapters of Gunslinger to the Galaxy, and it’s coming along swimmingly. In fact, I’ll probably go right back to it after finishing up Sons of the Starfarers and call it a vacation. Expect to see more Jane Carter soon!

The Twelfth Sword Trilogy

I am super super excited to finish this trilogy—which is good, because the way the first book ends, it’s definitely not a standalone. Definitely not. Haven’t formally outlined it yet, but there’s a ton of stuff I’m going to throw into the second book, The Sword Bearer. Mercenaries, sorcerors, death mages, winged cataphracts, desert ruins, and mountain strongholds—it’s going to be great fun!

The Outworlds Trilogy

For a while now, I’ve been playing around with the idea of condensing all of Star Wanderers into a novel and then turning it into a trilogy. The first book will basically be made up of bits and pieces from all of the Star Wanderers novellas, spliced together to make a coherent novel. In particular, I’d like to expand on Noemi’s viewpoint and trim out some (or a lot) of the extraneous stuff that made the series drag on. Basically, turn it into less of a sci-fi romance and more of a classic space opera.

I’ve already started the sequel, Children of the Starry Sea, though I haven’t gotten past the first chapter. Where Star Wanderers is a series of novellas, though, Children of the Starry Sea is definitely a proper novel, and it would probably work a lot better to frame it as a trilogy than anything else.

I suppose it’s a bit like how Orson Scott Card turned a bunch of his early short stories into The Worthing Saga, which in my opinion is his very best book. I won’t unpublish any of the old Star Wanderers stuff, but I may just let it fade into obscurity as I push the other stuff.


These are the books that are on my mind. I’ve got to be honest: Sons of the Starfarers feels a bit like a ball and chain, but I’ve committed to finishing it and I’ll do my best to finish it well.

On the publishing front, there’s so much stuff I want to do that I’m having trouble keeping up with it all. My main goal is to get to 10k subscribers on my email list. Currently, I’m just shy of 4k. InstaFreebie has been hugely useful for that, but I’ve got to try other strategies as well. One of those strategies involves a new signup incentive, so if you’re already signed up for my email list, I’ve got a surprise for you soon.

So much stuff going on. I swear, this is the best depiction of what it’s like to be an indie author:

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

Next project

So after finishing the rough draft of Gunslinger to the Stars a couple of weeks ago, I took an unofficial summer break to work on other things. But I’m back now, ready to pick up a new WIP. There are quite a few to choose from. Here are the ones I’m leaning towards:

The Sword Keeper — This one has been in progress for quite some time. When I left it off, it was about 3/4ths of the way finished, with a whole bunch of action scenes right up to the very end. I could probably finish it in a couple of weeks.

Edenfall — This is the sequel to Genesis Earth, and it’s been on the back burner for years. There seems to be a lot of growing interest in the first book, though, which makes me wonder if it’s time to finish the trilogy. If this is the book that my readers really want, then that’s the book to write.

Sons of the Starfarers — This series hasn’t really taken off the way I’d hoped it would, which is why I’ve more or less tabled it for now. There are four more books left, and if I’m going to write the next book (Patriots in Retreat), I’m going to finish all the other books as well. This could take a while, though, and I’m not sure now is a good time to pick up that project. If there’s enough demand, though, I’ll see what I can do.

Children of the Starry Sea — This sequel to the Star Wanderers series ties in a bunch of stuff from Sons of the Starfarers that I haven’t written yet, so now is probably not the time to write it.

A Beachhead in Time — This is the first book in a trilogy that I’m cowriting with my friend Scott Bascom. We’ve already started it, so technically it’s already a WIP. Not sure whether to make it my primary project at the current time, though, or to juggle it with a personal WIP.

So those are the options. Personally, I’m leaning a bit toward Edenfall at the moment, but when I’m between projects I tend to vacillate a lot until something really sticks.

The timelessness of novels

Every few months, an article about the “death of the novel” makes the rounds on the internet. This subject, the impending doom of one of literature’s most enduring forms, is a perennial favorite for bookish handwringers everywhere. If it isn’t ebooks that’s going to kill the novel, it’s millennials, the internet, our dwindling attention spans, or one of a hundred other things.

As a professional writer, though, I am awestruck by the timelessness of the novel. Think about it:

From its origin with Don Quixote in 1605, the modern novel has endured through social and political upheaval, global pandemics, the collapse of numerous societies, the most devastating war the world has ever seen, genocide and holocaust on an industrial scale, and rise and fall of half a dozen global empires. The world today would be unrecognizable to a person from Cervantes’ time, yet the novel has endured.

Movies didn’t kill the novel. Television didn’t kill the novel. Video games didn’t kill the novel. On the contrary—numerous franchises from Star Trek to Halo have a thriving line of novel tie-ins. When the ebook revolution was just getting started, people thought that so-called “enhanced novels” would dominate the marketplace. They failed to realize that all of the added audio-visual content was a distraction for most readers. Plain text is not a bug, it’s a feature.

It’s important here to make a distinction between novels and other literary forms, such as novellas and short stories. The other forms have endured as well, but not with anything approaching the popularity of the novel. Short stories are great for exploring an idea, but not so good at immersing the reader into another world. Novellas are great for telling an intimate story about two or three characters, but not nearly as good at conveying scope or intrigue.

There’s something about a novel-length story that captures the imagination in a way that other forms just can’t. Whether it’s the large cast of characters, the intricate world-building, or the interplay of numerous subplots, novels are more immersive, and therefore have the capacity to be much more satisfying. Little wonder, then, that the novel has endured.

I’ve seen this in my own books, too. Over the years, I’ve done relatively little to promote my full-length novels, and yet they still chug along with a steady month-to-month trickle of sales. When I do promote them, such as with this month’s free run of Genesis Earth, the results are astounding. My full-length novels also tend to receive much higher reviews.

In my second year of self-publishing, I got impatient and switched to novellas. While I don’t think that was a mistake, it did not provide the foundation for a lasting career. The Star Wanderers novellas did well for a couple of years, but I don’t think they’re going to endure in their current form.

I love writing novellas, but the books that I’m proudest of are all novels. Where novellas entice, novels satisfy. Where novellas tell an intimate story, novels possess greater depth. As such, I think it’s time for a change.

In the next couple of months, I’m going to prune back my catalog a bit. The Star Wanderers series will still all be up there, but I’m going to remove the individual novellas from sale, keeping the omnibus editions instead. This will pave the way for a sequel novel, Children of the Starry Sea, which I’ve already started work on.

I will probably remove most of my older short stories, and some of the derivative works. I don’t want to clutter my book pages with my earlier practice work, or anything that looks too obviously self-published.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with Sons of the Starfarers just yet. I’ll definitely finish the series, but I’m not sure whether to do the other two omnibus editions or to just release each individual book in print. I’m toying with the idea of releasing the last four books in rapid succession, to build some momentum for the series, but it would take some time to write them, which means that Patriots in Retreat (Book VI) would be delayed for maybe a year.

I’m definitely going to turn Genesis Earth into a trilogy. No idea when the next book, Edenfall, is going to come out, but I’m going to do as thorough a job with that book as I did for Genesis Earth, which means it may take a while.

Novels take a lot longer for me to write than shorter books, but the end result is generally worth it. The trouble is that without a busy release schedule, sales tend to dwindle as you fall out of readers’ minds. I’ll try to make up for that by upping my marketing game and running more free and group promotions. In the meantime, anything you guys can do to spread the word would help!

I’ve got a couple of really awesome projects that should be coming out before the end of the year: The Sword Keeper, Gunslinger to the Stars, and a bunch of other stuff that’s really going to branch out my catalog. I’ve also got a couple of short stories that should be appearing in some new markets soon. Be sure to keep an eye out, and let me know what you think!

State of the Vasicek 2015

I recently read a post over on Brandon Sanderson’s blog where he did an exhaustive recap on his writing and update on all of his WIPs, and called it State of the Sanderson. Since it’s the end of the year and I’m already looking back in order to make some new resolutions for 2016, it seems like a good opportunity to do something similar myself.

In 2015, I managed to publish five books, including two novels, a novelette, and two short stories:

Tag: 2015 Release
Friends in Command
Starchild
Heart of the Nebula
Worlds Without Number
A Hill on Which to Die

In addition, I wrote a number of short stories that are currently on submission to the major markets, and will probably be published (by myself or in the magazines) sometime in 2016. These include:

  • Killing Mr. Wilson — Time Travel (950 words)
  • My Name Is For My Friends — Sword & Sorcery (2,000 words)
  • Utahraptors at Dawn — Cyberpunk (1,950 words)
  • Welcome to Condescension — Sci-fi Humor (750 words)
  • A Less Than Perfect Game — Sword & Sorcery (1,250 words)
  • Elusive Eden — LDS Science Fiction (2,200 words)
  • The Janus Anomaly — Space Opera (4,400 words)

All of these stories will get out eventually, though it may take a while. I’m putting them on submission to the short story magazines and anthologies that pay at least semi-professional rates, since none of them buy exclusive rights to the stories. Why rush to self-publish if I can get paid twice?

In a lot of ways, it was a pretty decent year. In other ways, I wish it had been more productive. I didn’t publish anything for the first six months, except for A Hill on Which to Die, which I later unpublished in order to take it out of Kindle Unlimited (the first and probably last time I will ever experiment with exclusivity). I made up for it later, but still.

Next year is going to be a lot more productive, I hope. I started a lot more projects this year than I finished, so in 2016 I plan to refocus on the writing and substantially increase my output.

As for writing projects, here is what I’m working on:

Major Projects

Sons of the Starfarers

There are five more books before this series is complete, and while I know more or less how the series is going to end, I’m still in the process of writing it. However, I’m making good enough progress to publish at least two more books in the series this year, possibly three or four.

Captives in Obscurity (Book V) is already written and ready to send off to the editor. Trouble is, cash is kind of tight right now and I probably won’t be able to send it off until after I’ve filed my taxes, which I hope to do early February (I always try to get a jump on tax season each year). For now, that means I’m looking for a launch in May.

Patriots in Retreat (Book VI) is my current WIP, and I hope to have the first draft finished before the end of January. A lot of stuff happens in this book—it’s kind of like the Empire Strikes Back episode, where crap hits the fan and things get real. Then again, Friends in Command (Book IV) was kind of like that too, and Captives in Obscurity has some really crazy developments… point is, I think you guys are going to like these books.

Haven’t outlined any of the other books in the series yet, but I’m a pantser so that’s normal. I do have a climactic ending that I’m working toward, which will tie in this series with all of my other books in the same universe. It’s going to be great to see it all come together, and I expect it will over the course of the next year!

STATUS: Book VI currently in progress.

Gunslinger to the Stars

I started this book in earnest a few months ago, then hit chapter 2 and realized I had a beginning and an end but no idea what to put in the middle. So I put the project on the back burner, letting the ideas percolate until I’m ready to pick it up again and go full throttle. With luck, that will happen very soon.

This is a really awesome project, and one of the ones I’m most excited about. I’ll post a few excerpts in the next few weeks to give you guys a taste, and I think you’re really going to like it!

STATUS: On the back burner, will resume again soon.

Queen of the Falconstar

A few of the readers who enjoyed my Star Wanderers books have mentioned that they wish Jeremiah, Noemi, and Mariya had ended up in a polygamous relationship. While I don’t think that would have worked for that particular story, in Queen of the Falconstar, it’s a major plot point. In addition, the book is an origin story for the Hameji, which should be a lot of fun for readers of my other books as well.

I’ve been working on this project off and on for the last year or so, and while I have a pretty good handle on the main storyline, I’m still a little iffy about how to proceed. It may have some promise as a hybrid between Space Opera and Sword and Planet (sword and starship? Is that even a thing?). The Princess of Mars books are on my reading list, so I’ll probably revisit this project after reading through some of those.

STATUS: On the back burner.

The Sword Keeper

I really need to finish this book. It’s already more than half written, and has some really fantastic potential. For the last three years, I’ve been working on it off and on, but 2016 will definitely be the year that I finish it (though it might still be a while before it’s published).

STATUS: On the back burner.

Secondary Projects

Starship Lachoneus

In spite of finishing the prologue and publishing it as “Worlds Without Number” under my J.M. Wight pen name, I haven’t yet made a serious attempt to write this book. The main reason is that it’s a passion project that I don’t expect to pay off very well or earn me much prestige. Still, when my career is at a point where I can afford more time for a passion project, I will probably pick it up.

STATUS: On the back burner.

The Genesis Earth Trilogy

Genesis Earth is a standalone book, but I realized soon after finishing it that I could easily turn it into a trilogy. Back in 2011, I even started writing the second book: Edenfall. But one thing led to another, and it got put on hold in favor of Star Wanderers.

The trilogy is still on hold, but if there is enough interest, I could certainly resume work on it. I made Genesis Earth free for the month of December, and it’s had a much stronger free run than I’d anticipated (especially with almost no advertising). Depending on the feedback I get from readers, I’ll finish this project sooner or later.

STATUS: On hold, may resume soon.

Mercenary Savior

This is a prequel to Bringing Stella Home that I’ve had kicking around in my head for the last two years. The interest in Heart of the Nebula has been surprisingly steady, even more than a month after publication. If either of those books starts to break out, then I will definitely pick up this project. Otherwise, I can’t justify making it a priority.

STATUS: On hold.

Empress of the Free Stars

Empress of the Free Stars is a sequel to Stars of Blood and Glory that I started back in 2013 but never got further than the prologue. Again, unless my Gaia Nova books start to break out, I can’t justify prioritizing this over my other WIPs.

STATUS: On hold.

Children of the Starry Sea

This one is a novelized sequel to Star Wanderers, with all of the major characters from that series. I know there’s some interest in this one, but for now I think my time would better be spent launching new series rather than returning to old ones. But in 2016, that may well change.

STATUS: On hold.

Lifewalker

This is a standalone I started back in 2013, and I even got several chapters into it before I put it on the back burner. Haven’t touched it since, so right now it’s really more on hold, but my Dad keeps bugging me to finish it (he read the first chapter and really liked it). So yeah. Someday.

I will say this, though: if the short story that’s derived from this book gets picked up by one of the magazines, I will definitely move it up in the writing queue.

STATUS: On hold.

A Brotherhood of Swords

This book is supposed to be a Sword & Sorcery prequel to The Sword Keeper, but since I already have plans for that book, this one is on hold. I did get a really good short story out of it, though.

STATUS: On hold.

That pretty much does it. This next year is going to be super, super busy, and hopefully productive as well. My goal for 2016 is to get back in the saddle, writing full-time again as soon as I can. There are other resolutions I plan to make as well, but those can wait until Thursday.