Essay–The Black: One More Down

It’s been a long year. Many great things have happened, many terrible ones, and I’ve been writing like a madman. Until recently.

2014 is a bit of a strange time for me. I have published The Street which has been pretty damned successful. We’re getting ready to publish Legends of Garaaga in paperback. The Rider, a novel I wrote with Scott Sigler, is due for publication sometime in Q4 2014 or Q1 2015. I have two other novels I haven’t finished and my first small press title, The Black is now in the hands of the publisher.

Phew. That’s a laundry list of books. Or is it? Since I’m working on the last novelette/novella for The Daemons of Ur, that’s another one that going to come out later this year or early next. Basically, shadowpublications.com has been a damned busy company, and I’ve been a scribbling lunatic.

But here we are in September. I “finished” The Black at the beginning of August. So what’s taken so damned long to get it to the publisher? In a word: me.

Since this is the first book I’ve sold to a small press, I have fretted over it like nothing I’ve written before. Doing so required two beta readers, a scientific/industry expert, and a lot of rewriting. This book is not perfect. How could it be? A human wrote it. I wrote it. But it’s about as close as I know how to make it.

The past month, I’ve spent more time reworking words, rereading the story, worrying over inconsistencies and plotholes (that weren’t there), and doing my best to make it worth your purchase. That has taken a toll on the actual writing side. Which, by the way, is something I steadfastly told myself would never happen again.

Yet here we are. I have no idea when The Black will be out in ebook and paperback. I can, however, tell you that as soon as I get the all-clear, I’ll start work on the audiobook. Audiobook? Yes, audiobook. And podcast. It’ll be a pretty long one too. Longer than Closet Treats. That too will take a toll on the writing, although hopefully not as much as in the past.

In the past two years, my writing schedule has been derailed by several external commitments and opportunities. That has put me behind on the works I wanted to get out there to my readers. I made some promises I haven’t kept and I apologize. My podcast feed has been dead since The Street was broadcast in December 2013/January 2014. Again, I have no excuse other than this: I’ve been writing.

65k for EmptySet Entertainment. 85k on The Black. 11.5k for “Lamashtu” which was commissioned for an anthology that was subsequently canceled. Hela? Over 20k. Flames? 50k. A 7k story called “Coven” that was commissioned for yet another anthology and then rejected. And that doesn’t even include the 10-12k words I’ve written on various short stories that have yet to be published.

The rest of this year’s priorities will no doubt be shuffled again depending on possible deadlines for The Black‘s sequel. Since Garaaga’s Children and Fiends were such poor sellers, I decided to focus on a different strategy. Going hybrid affords some great opportunities as well as new challenges. It’s been an experiment and I’ve yet to know the outcome. But for now, I’m a damned happy writer. And who knows? Maybe the other series will get picked up in the future or gain market traction.

My only frustration has been my lack of focus on GC, Fiends, and Tony Downs. I have the stories. I have the timelines in my skull. It’s not a matter of the tales having to coalesce in my brain, but deciding which of them are the most important.

I love GC. I love Tony Downs. But nothing I’ve written has been as popular as Tattoo. It was one of the first tales I told, and it was also the most listened to podcast I’ve ever had. That was several years ago. Do you understand my frustration?

I’ve become a much better writer since I debuted in 2009. The Black is proof. As with any work I’ve ever published/podcast, it’s both terrifying and exciting for it to reach production. I typically give myself 1 star reviews due to a lack of confidence in my abilities, but The Black is a winner. I can feel it. And I guess that’s why I’m so terrified of its reception.

I’m looking forward to getting back to GC, Fiends, and Tony Downs. I have several novels to finish. Short stories to publish. And a few novella ideas that will no doubt further cement my reputation for grim insanity. Hopefully you’ll still be here waiting for more news, more words, and entertaining fiction.

Thank you for your continued support. Without you, I wouldn’t be able to continue doing this. And who knows? Maybe someday soon I’ll be able to kick these tales out full time and finally see my vision through.

Cheers.

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