Thoughts on Genesis Earth

So I finished rereading Genesis Earth, in preparation for writing the sequel, and I have to say it was not what I expected.

It wasn’t disappointing. There were some annoying ticks that I noticed, like too many said bookisms or turns of phrase that I wouldn’t have written today. Also, the book was a little wordy or slow in parts, compared to my more recent writing. But those were relatively minor issues. The story was quite solid. I’d actually forgotten some of the plot twists, so it was fun to watch them unfold. A bit like reading the book for the first time.

But one thing above all else struck home: the person who wrote Genesis Earth is not the person I am today. I doubt that that person would have been able to write Gunslinger to the Stars. And if I were to go back and write Genesis Earth from scratch, it would be a completely different book in every meaningful way.

It’s bizarre. When you’re caught up in day-to-day life, you never really get a sense that you’re changing. And yet, the truth is that we’re always changing, hopefully for the best, but not always. It’s impossible to experience life and still remain unchanged.

I also got a sense of this when I finished the 2.0 draft for The Sword Keeper. Perhaps it was just me reliving my own memories from the times when I wrote it, but the first half of the book seemed very different from the second half. I wrote the first half while living abroad in Georgia, and the second half years later here in Utah.

There’s a couple of things I’ve taken away from this experience.

First, it’s not always a good idea to put a WIP on the back burner. By the time you come back to it, you may not be capable of writing it exactly the way you first envisioned it. Better to push through whatever’s blocking you and strike while the iron is hot.

Second, at anything you want to do well, it’s important to always strive to improve. Even when you’re at the top of your game (and I’m certainly not at the top of mine—not yet anyway), if you’re not always trying to do better, to learn and to grow, you’ll fall off really fast.

In reality, there is no “top,” because nothing is ever static. Improvement is a lifelong process, because the moment you stop improving is the moment you start getting worse.

One thing I really need to work on is writing every day. In the past, when I’ve been working on revisions, or prewriting, or getting a book ready for publication, I’ve slacked off on this. But the truth is that writing new words is the best way to sharpen your writing skills, and that writing every day is the best way to always keep them sharp. And there’s always something to write, even if it’s just a short story. If I could write a short story every week for a year…

So yeah, lots to think on. And I’ve got a few ideas for Edenfall as well. But first, before I move to Iowa next week, I need to get Gunslinger to the Stars ready for publication. Harder, better, faster, stronger—our work is never over!

Not a bad start

So January’s almost over, and I have to say it’s not a bad start to the year. Things are going quite well, both on the writing and publishing end, and on the personal end as well.

Gunslinger to the Stars
Phase:3.0 Draft
100%

First off, I finished draft 3.0 of Gunslinger to the Stars last week. The final draft came in at just under 52k words, which means that I managed to cut a healthy 27% of unnecessary wordage compared to the rough draft. That’s like upgrading from chuck roast to top sirloin, or 80/20 lean ground beef to 93/7 (except I actually prefer 85/15, but you get the point).

The Sci-Fi StoryBundle is doing quite well, enough that it may be a small windfall! That’s always encouraging, especially in today’s publishing climate. I should have some guest posts lined up soon from my fellow authors, which should be fun, so look out for that in the next few days. The bundle is only available for the next ten days, so if you haven’t picked it up yet, now is the time!

With Gunslinger to the Stars 3.0 finished, it’s time to move on to another WIP. The next one lined up is The Sword Keeper 2.0, which should be a lot of fun. This is my first epic fantasy novel, and there’s a bit that still has to be cleaned up, but I can legitimately say that this is one of the best things I’ve written so far. Really excited to get it out, hopfully later this year.

I also wrote a short story last week, and I’m not quite sure what to do with it. It’s so insanely political that it will probably get me blacklisted at half the magazines I submit it to. It’s also insanely short. I’ll probably clean it up a bit, see if I can add anything, and then go straight to self-publishing. Thank goodness that’s an option!

Lots more stuff happening this week. New free books, new release, new WIP, another short story in the works… 2017 is definitely off to a good start! And on that note, I’ll leave you with this awesome Pogo mix:

Well, that rules out time travelers

If there’s one thing that the events of the weekend have proven, it’s that time machines aren’t going to be invented for at least another few hundred years. Because if time travelers from our immediate future were in our midst, I have no doubt that either Hillary or Trump (or both, Godwilling!) would have been assassinated by now.

Of course, it could just be that things are going to collapse so hard that it wouldn’t make a difference which one of them became president, but whatever. No sense in being overly optimistic.

Last week was a total wash after the motorcycle accident, but I’m slowly getting back into the saddle. I’ve got the comments back from my first readers for Gunslinger to the Stars, so that’s the WIP I’m picking up next. Deadline for draft 2.0 is October 29, but I may be able to get it done sooner than that. Hell, I may even get it done this week.

Publishing it is another question. Finances are tight, and it’s been a bad year for sales, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to produce a quality book. Right now, I’m shooting for an April release date. That may actually be a good thing, though as it gives me time to write and release a few tie-in short stories. But regardless, it’s going to come out early next year.

Between now and then, I’ll probably release a couple of short stories and story collections. The shorts are selling better than I expected, and they make great giveaways for InstaFreebie and my mailing list. I’ve still got a bunch of stories on submission, but some of them are coming off soon, and others (like the tie-ins I want to write) would probably do better as direct to publish anyways.

As far as other WIPs go, my next big project is The Sword Keeper 2.0. I want to do a solid clean-up pass before I hand it off to my first readers, which shouldn’t take more than a couple of weeks. It is my first epic fantasy novel, though, so it’s probably going to need a lot of work before I can publish it.

Next one up after that is Edenfall. There’s been a lot of interest in that one from readers of Genesis Earth, so I think it’s time (after so many years) to finish the trilogy.

I have plans for Sons of the Starfarers, but those will have to go on hold for a while as I work on these other projects. I’ll probably write the last four books in a big sprint and publish them all within a month of each other. No idea when, but hopefully before the end of next year.

That pretty much does it. I’ll leave you with some words of Hungarian optimism that showed up in my YouTube feed today:

The Sword Keeper 1.0 is finished!

It’s been roughly four and a half years since I wrote the first word in The Sword Keeper, and now the first draft is finally complete! I finished it on Monday and promptly came down with the flu, which is why I’m only writing about it now.

This is my first complete fantasy novel, which is kind of a weird thing to realize. I started writing fantasy back in high school, but I never actually finished anything until college, and by then I was writing science fiction almost exclusively. Of course, the line between fantasy and science fiction is pretty fuzzy, especially the science fiction I tend to write, but still it’s a different set of tropes and a different kind of story.

In terms of other fantasy books, this one is pretty light. It’s just under 100k words, which makes it about 1/3 to 1/4 the size of a Brandon Sanderson novel. There’s magic, and it does drive the story, but the magic system itself isn’t the main driving factor of the plot. No elves, no dwarves, no dragons.

Instead, there’s an ancient order of magic sword bearers, a secret brotherhood of dark mages, a prophecy about saving the world, and a tavern girl (not a farmboy) who turns out to be the chosen one. About half of the fighting happens in the Void between the mortal and immortal realms. Oh, and the cost of magic is death.

There’s no question that this book needs a lot of work before it’ll be ready to publish. That said, I’m really excited about it. If all goes well, I expect it to be out sometime next year.

Quick update on WIPs

Last week, I think I may have written the best scene of any story I’ve written so far in my career. Seriously, I was in tears by the end of it, and that never happens. I’d post it here, but that would spoil the book (The Sword Keeper), so you’ll have to wait until it’s published.

Progress on The Sword Keeper is coming along quite well. My goal is to have it finished before the end of next week. There are only two chapters left, and the really hard stuff is already written, so it should be a straight shot to the end.

I started this book nearly four years ago when I was teaching English in Georgia, and can still remember working on it on my tiny eee PC on the second story of the Leladze farmhouse, with the chickens roosting in the tree by the balcony and a marvelous view of the Caucusus Mountains just outside my bedroom window. Then the electricity would go out, and I’d have to wrap things up in order to conserve battery power.

Point is, I’ve been working on The Sword Keeper for far too long. In fact, I think I’ve taken longer to finish the rough draft for this book than any other. The only WIP that’s been kicking around for longer is Edenfall, but that’s only because it’s been on the back burner this whole time. With The Sword Keeper, I’ve been working on it off and on for the past four years.

It will be very, very good to have it finished. After that, it will probably need a major revision to fix a bunch of plot holes and put all the scenes and chapters in the correct order (for some reason, every novel I’ve written has the scenes out of order in the first draft), but that shouldn’t be too hard. Then it’s off to the first readers.

As for Gunslinger to the Stars, I should be hearing back from my first readers soon. I’ll probably do a revision for that one next, which (with luck) will make it ready to be published. If all goes well, I may be able to publish it in time for Christmas this year.

So that’s the plan. I’ve got another story release coming out in a couple of days, plus the free books for September, so if you aren’t already signed up for my email list, be sure to do that soon.

Thanks for reading!