The Godhead Wars series now in Kindle Unlimited

Hello dear readers,

It’s been a while. This mainly due to the fact that, as I tend to do shortly after I release a new book, I have a new baby and a new day job. For the record, I do not recommend starting a new career immediately after having a baby. I’ve done it twice, and it was rough both times. Fortunately, it’s turning out a lot better this time around.

Anyway, while deciding what to do marketing-wise with my books, I decided to give Kindle Unlimited a try. So, for the time being, The Godhead Wars series (Shadows of the Underwizard and Relics of the Casted Age, so far), are exclusively available on Amazon, per the terms of the program. (This also means that Shadows is no longer permafree.) This will last for a minimum of 90 days, but could go on longer depending on how things go. I apologize to the (very) few readers I had on other platforms, but I figured now was the time to try it out before I risked losing reviews and/or ranking in the other stores.

Writing-wise, I’m working on a several things at the moment and hope to be able to share some of them with you sooner than later.

Shadows of the Underwizard ebook now free almost everywhere!

Hello dear readers. The ebook version of Shadows of the Underwizard is now forever free (yes, a low low cost $0.00) at most retailers. The only exception currently are the non-US Amazon sites which, for some reason, do not automatically price match to free.

I hope this will encourage new readers to give The Godhead Wars series a shot, and make it easier to get your fantasy-reading friends on board too. Enjoy!

Confessions of a Slow Writer (Or, How to Fail Striking While the Iron is Hot)

Well, it took me nearly four years to write and publish a sequel to an epic-ish fantasy novel.

In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with the above statement. It’s pretty normal, actually. At least, it used to be.

When I first published Shadows of the Underwizard, the first entry into my semi-experimental take on the epic fantasy genre, e-book publishing was just hitting its stride. While the Kindle and its few competitors had been out for a while, it took a couple years for the momentum to build; for publishers to accept the format (which they still fight to some extent) and for unpublished writers to take advantage of this entrepreneurial near-direct (and basically free) connection to potential readers.

And I saw some writers who were quite successful in this brave new world. The golden ticket in genre fiction appeared to be writing a series and making the first one permanently free (permafree). I was sold on the concept. I religiously read the forums where writers were exchanging tips and tricks while I prepared my first novel. I finally sent it out into the bit-abyss in December 2011. It did pretty well considering I had zero name recognition and did even less marketing. I actually sold maybe 100 copies altogether, which seemed encouraging at the time. I just needed to keep the momentum going. However, editing and formatting had taken me months alone, while the novel itself had been brewing for years and I had multiple false starts with writing it before it settled into its final form. Already I was doubting my ability to produce more content while the ebook market was still a virtual land grab.

And then life got busy. (Cue the excuses.) I was in my last semester of my engineering degree when I first published. I didn’t even want to go back to school, but it was something I ended up doing anyway because (especially coming off the 2008/9 recession) I had no better prospects of a reliable day job. And my last semester was pretty much hell. I had also gotten married the semester before (busy busy) and, naturally, we were expecting our first child before I even graduated. The summer after graduation and before I found a job would seemingly be the time to knuckle down and write, but between wasting hours applying for jobs (and having a mini-existential crisis every time I did), unwinding from school, and worrying about the future, I didn’t accomplish much. Now that I am a parent, I really need a time machine just so I can go back and kick my child-free butt into gear.

Eventually, I landed a (terrible and ill-suited-for-me) job in another state. I had already moved way too many times in my life at this point, but it was time to do it again, while my wife struggled with a new baby and selling a house. It wasn’t great. But eventually things settled down somewhat and I made significant writing progress while my pseudo-career slowly crashed into a wall. But what I was writing was still longer than anything I had attempted before. Whenever I squeezed in short periods to work on it, I felt like my output was terrible. Only when I had a big chunk of time, like most of day, could I really get some momentum going and produce my best work. I still feel this way. During editing, I am always fixing those short stretches of crap I wrote when I tried to write on a regular basis, while the 5,000-words-in-a-day blocks always felt like a new creative high, and were the most enjoyable to immerse myself in.

So, yeah, days like that didn’t come often enough, and here I am–after two more moves and another career change, to one I like more but unfortunately leaves me less time to write (or do anything). But, eventually, mostly while stranded in hotels on business trips, I managed to finish my sequel. The ebook world has already undergone multiple convulsions of different hot marketing techniques, sudden superstars, changing Amazon algorithms, and influxes of new writers. And the only lasting rule of success was to publish more more MORE, faster faster FASTER.

And what now? The benefit of permafree is now debatable at best, especially for someone with a mere two books to his name. Other marketing techniques exist, but I have trouble finding the time or motivation to do them. I don’t really want to be an Internet personality. This neglected not-a-blog is the closest I will probably ever come to that. I actively despise Facebook and Twitter. It’s hard to justify taking out advertisements for a series only two books in. But if I am that slow at producing more work, is it really possible to market anything in the lightning-fast age of the Internet?

So why am I writing this post? I don’t know. I’m really not trying to complain. The opportunity was there and perhaps I didn’t capitalize on it as effectively as I might have. But, honestly, I don’t know that I ever could have. It’s just not in me. I don’t move fast. This hasn’t been great for my general productivity (or longevity as an employee), but I haven’t been able to improve upon that aspect of myself, and I’m certainly not getting any younger.

Bottom line is, despite the doubts almost every artist has, I am proud of what I have written. I tried to write my best, not my fastest. Perhaps this was a mistake career-wise. But I hope at least a few readers somewhere appreciate it (hopefully more than just a few, obviously).

And although as a non-professional writer I have excuses lined up for years to come, I will try not make anyone wait four years for book three. Hell, I don’t think I can wait that long.

A final (probably), mostly depressing post for 2013

So about my prediction of the sequel being ready this year… yeah, that may have been a bit optimistic. Life, as usual, had other plans and I’m currently prepping for yet another move. (I would also like to point out that downsizing your household via Craigslist is amazingly cathartic.) And I’m really not sure how things are going to shake out and whether my situation will be better or worse as far as getting in some writing goes. So, no more predictions at this point and time. (And, yeah, maybe someday I will be less cryptic and actually talk about what’s going on in my life. Maybe.)

The good news is that first draft is sitting at 86,000 words, so not too far from the 97,000 of book one. It’s obvious the sequel will be longer, though; I’m thinking around 120,000 words, so significantly longer than the first book but not a doorstopper by any means. And part of the reason I write pretty slow-ish is that I tend to stop a lot and think things through before plowing ahead to satisfy a word count–so I generally don’t have any massive re-writes when it comes time to edit. Also, editing is something I can do in smaller chunks, whereas the actual writing I tend to need a few hours to really get into the flow of the story; so what I’m saying is that once I can manage the first draft, I think things will pick up, since that sort of task is actually easier to fit into my life right now.

And I don’t know why I’m explaining myself since nobody really visits here at this point, but I like to make sure my many failings as a human being are a part of the public record. You know, for posterity.

Moving and moving forward

Apparently I decided that during the period I promised to produce a lengthy work of art was also the time to undertake many life-changing endeavors, including graduating from college, starting a family, making an interstate move, selling a house, and beginning a challenging new career (because, sadly, writing does not pay the bills yet–hey, buy my book!).

With the excuses out of the way, things are starting to settle down (again) and I’ve made some progress. For some reason, I’ve always had this compulsive desire to write fiction, so I’m not going to give it up merely because it might be easier to (it wouldn’t), or even if it never turns into financial success. And really, the feedback on Shadows has been so positive that I’d have to be a real jerk not to continue the series.

So my goal is to have sequel done and published by the end of the year, of course, the sooner the better. There will also be an audiobook version at some point, though I’m still mulling my options on that front. So yes, I’m still alive and there is still writing going on.

That being said, it did take me two hours to compose this post because I’m taking care of the baby, so life and all that.

Little Timesucker!

In my latest excuse for not having finished the sequel yet, I have a newborn at home. 🙂 That’s pretty much the trump card of excuses, right? Well, yeah, we have a new baby who is now about a month old. However, I think things are settling into enough of a routine that I can ramp up the writing again (and NaNoWriMo was not even a consideration this year).

From a more encouraging standpoint, I am roughly halfway through the first draft, and I tend to pick up momentum the closer I get to the conclusion.