Tag Archives: Blackout

More #GUTGAA–with analysis this time

I have entered yet another pitch contest in #GUTGAA, this time the small press pitch contest. The only difference is that instead of agents being the ultimate judges (as in the agent pitch contest earlier), this time it’s small press… people. Editors? Talent scouts? I don’t actually know their titles. (But I’m sure they’re awesome. One of them has even voted for my entry so far!)

I decided to enter Blackout this time instead of City of Magi for a lot of the reasons I mentioned in earlier posts. Though I think City of Magi is my best work, Blackout is “pitchier.” I know I sound like a TV Singing show judge, but what I mean by that is that it’s an easier pitch to an agent. Blackout is Urban Fantasy with a religious mythological theme. It’s short (kind of—more on that later). It’s more modern, and it’s a lot more like stuff that’s getting a lot of press today.

Before I go further, I’d like to try and absolve myself: I don’t intend anything I say as an insult, though if you read it with the right voice in your head, it certainly can sound that way. You see, one thing this contest has taught me is that I understand very, very little about the modern female mass-lit consumer. And there are so, so many of them. I pitched Blackout in this contest because I specifically think it appeals more to women—not in its actual content (the female characters are much better developed and stronger overall in City of Magi), but in its pitch, and that’s largely because I hit all the checkboxes. Urban Fantsasy. Under a hundred thousand words. Protagonist is a mid-to-low income teacher. Part of the struggle is how the events of the plot affect his love life.

Now, my analysis here (pitch to women, because they’re the consumers) is not based simply on a hunch. In fact, I did a little compiling of the data. There were thirty-two entries in the adult literature category. One of them was a nonfiction analysis of humor essay that really didn’t fit in, so for the below data, consider that one as having been set aside. Hence, there were thirty-one entries.

Of those thirty-one, no fewer than 20 were what I would call (and again, not as an insult) “chick lit.” I mean this in the same vein as “chick flicks,” which, to my knowledge is not used in a derogatory manner except by people who hate romcoms. Chick flicks tend to do very well in the cinema, and I have no doubt (particularly now) that chick lit does just as well at the bookstore. I classified an entry as chick lit if it met one of the following categories:

  1. Its stated genre was “Romance,” “Romantic Comedy,” “Paranormal Romance,” or “Women’s Fiction” (and if you don’t want your book to be called chick lit, but you market it as women’s fiction… c’mon… really?)
  2. The first two sentences established the protagonist as a plucky, determined woman trying to right her life when everything gets complicated, and she has to deal with the sullen but handsome detective snooping around her… you get the picture. If it took me all of five seconds to say “Ahhh… this book is aimed at women,” then I lumped it in there. If I had any hesitation, I didn’t include it.

Of the entries mentioned, 12 were assigned to chick lit by their self-professed genres, and 8 were my own intuition. You’re welcome to do your own analysis (or try to guess which 8 that were not automatically assigned I thought were clearly for women) by seeing the whole list at Tara Tyler’s blog. Two thirds of the entries sounds a bit high for just chance. There’s a lot of it out there. By comparison, just 8 of the others were fantasy or urban fantasy, so if you add the three paranormal romances you’d be up to 11 out of 31 entries as fantasy. Six were mainstream or literary fiction (one of which I counted as chick lit), two were genuine hard science fiction, two were thrillers, and two were historical fiction. There is some double counting in there, so the numbers don’t add up to 31, but that gives you a sense of the breakdown. There’s some fantasy going on, but holy Mary mother of Jesus is there a metric ton of chick lit.

Now, I suspect some of this is just the nature of the contest I entered, the people who knew Deanna Barnhart (who I can’t thank enough for putting this together) or followed her blog, and in that way it may be skewed toward this audience. But I can’t help but wonder if it’s less skewed than it looks. Maybe that’s the shape of the modern reading market, and because I’m not a part of that audience, I didn’t know how significant it was.

Something else that really blew my mind was the length of the entries. Now, there was one monster at 240K, which is actually shorter than the non-split version of City of Magi, but if you throw out that entry and the essay, the average length of all entries was 82,456 words. That puts me on the long end with what I felt was my “short” book at approximately 99,000 words. Pouring through comments from the agent competition and the small press competition, there appears to be consensus that books should only ever be up to 90K or so in length. 100K was just excessive, and the absolute max publishable length (from one comment) was 150K.

I have to admit, this all leaves me speechless. I had researched this before, and I thought the target was 120K on submission (to hit something like 400 pages). This is particularly true given that the first thing any good editor is going to do is look for what she can cut out of the book. They want to trim the fat and they don’t do that by asking for longer descriptions. A 120K manuscript can easily become a 95K published book in the hands of a particularly vicious (and I mean that in a good way) editor. How long does a submitted 80K manuscript end up? I can’t imagine paying for a 70K book. I have literally never read a book that short, and I would assume something of that size was intended for a younger audience. Is this the face of chick lit? Am I missing the audience or am I looking at a completely different crowd from where I usually am, at least in fiction today?

In reverse order, the last books I have read are:

  1. The entire Game of Thrones series (these are all massive)
  2. The entire Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series (~600 pages each)
  3. The Hunger Games (~100K words, the rest of the series was a little shorter)
  4. Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong (350ish pages, so approximately 100K)
  5. The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson (333 pages, so approximately 95K)

 

I never read books that are shorter than 90K, it would seem. It isn’t at all the case that I think you need that kind of length to be complete or to be interesting. I don’t doubt that great stories can be told in 50,000 words or less. I’m just stunned by the view that you can’t be longer than 90K if you want to get published as a first time author, or that books longer than 150K are “out of style” as one commenter in the agent contest mentioned. Out of style? Did people never pick up any of the Harry Potter books? The first Harry Potter was 77K, but the last four were all close to 200K, and I enjoyed them all. Is Game of Thrones (first book, 284K, and that was the shortest one) not the most popular work of fantasy in the world right now? If I go back further in my reading queue, you’ll find Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind (259,000) and A Wise Man’s Fear (399,000), both of which are insanely awesome and very long.

Again, I don’t think you need length, but I have a hard time seeing people get turned off by it.


UPDATE: With three out of four judges voting for Blackout, I moved on to the finalist round! Thanks to all the judges and congratulations to all the other finalists.


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A different pitch

September 20, 2012 8:56 am by MRM in Projects, Writing

Things didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped in the #GUTGAA agent pitch contest, and while I’m a little disappointed, I’m not too upset about it. There were a lot of great entries, and mine wasn’t the only one I liked that didn’t get picked. I’m also happy with the transformation in my pitch that occurred because of the pitch polish week.

Sadly, the agents were very busy with all the pitches—too much to give feedback except in the cases where they were voting. I’d love to know what turned them away from CITY OF MAGI… though… I have my suspicions. The other entries were very heavy on chick lit and romance (I was in the “adult” section), and the judges were very fond of the genre.

I was particularly perplexed by a type of comment I saw rather often (paraphrasing here): “The pitch really could be tightened up, and I was confused as to whom you were talking about at [some part], but the idea intrigues me and the first 150 don’t have the same problems, so you’ve got my vote.” It certainly isn’t the case that only romances and chick lit went forward, but… the existence of a plucky female lead frustrated by a rough-and-tumble lawman who is on her side but sort of isn’t at first… that certainly didn’t hurt your chances. I could have played up the romance between Grayson Kearney and Zia Locke in CITY OF MAGI, but I feel like that would be getting away from the true heart of the book, which is the fantasy and intrigue.

This sort of sounds like grumbling or sour grapes, but I certainly don’t intend it that way. I’m very thankful for the opportunity and wish the winners the best as they go forward. The GUTGAA pitch contest was the first time anything about CITY OF MAGI was read by agents, and this has been fantastically instructive for me. The biggest lesson that I can take out of this when I continue sending out CITY OF MAGI is to read up on the agents to whom you submit. Proud chick lit lovers aren’t going to instantly warm up to epic industrial fantasy. Urban fantasy was big in this contest too. I would actually love to know if it was the subject, the writing, or just the length that turned the judges off. I’m leaning more towards splitting the story in two when next I query it. It’ll break my heart, but perhaps it’s for the best. It also means the inevitable trilogy is two thirds done instead of only one third.

The contest has also given me a theory about agent submissions. They care a lot more about the idea and the story sample than the pitch. Agents are the ones who do the real pitches. If they have a really cool story idea and the writing is good in the book, it doesn’t matter if an author can’t pitch to save his life. The agent will write a killer pitch to her contacts at various publishers. She’s the one selling it. A pitch to an agent, then, is only important in that it manages to pique her interest, not that it could get your book published. Of course, piquing an agent’s interest takes a well-written query… sometimes.

Sometimes you’re in luck and the agent feels like reading a sample anyway because they’ve never read a book where dragons are Indian-cow-style holy creatures that are also sort of a nuisance and are endangered by habitat encroachment, but the government doesn’t want to limit settlements, so it’s up to Caitlyn, who never wanted to be anything but a dragon biologist and wishes she could get out of the shadow of her famous, late, father, and is on the run from Agent Aidan Michaels, a gruff FBI field agent assigned to corral the dragon hippies but who just can’t take his eyes off of Caitlyn… okay… you get it. Also, I’m not writing a book about dragon hippies. Maybe a short story. But God help me if I ever name a main character Aidan. I’m pretty sure that name only exists in romance books. Hmm… this makes me want to do a quick check.

Names I have used for major characters:

Male – Grayson, Malcolm, Lear, Malloy, Alak, Remy, Ian

Female – Zia, Sundari, Pae, Erica, Mede, Quinta, Cindy, Srii, Susan

I don’t think there are any romance character cliché names in there. Maybe Remy.

In any case, #GUTGAA is far from over, and a week from Monday they’ll be starting a different pitch contest, this time for small press rather than agents. I’m going to take a cue from the above and pitch a different book this time. I’m going to go with BLACKOUT. It’s not as polished a manuscript as CITY OF MAGI, but it’s complete and is a much different story. It is urban fantasy, has religious overtones (another thing I noticed was popular), and is much, much shorter.

Without further ado, here is the first draft of my pitch for BLACKOUT.


Title: Blackout

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Word Count: 98,477

Pitch:

They say God doesn’t ask more from you than you can handle. Well, they never got drafted into a millennia-long battle because the angel of death needed a new body for his foot soldier. Malcolm Anders is a teacher and a part-time gymnast, at least when he isn’t covering up evidence at the site of a body he woke up over. He clings to threads of the life he crafted for himself, every day getting closer to having it destroyed by a spirit, Saraqael, who never asked permission to wage his holy war in Malcolm’s body. Saraqael costs Malcolm his stability, his plans for the future, and the woman he thought he’d be with forever. He seeks the help of a priest to get his life back, but what they discover only draws Malcolm deeper.

The demon Andras, Saraqael’s eternal foil, has chosen Philadelphia for this century’s uprising. His infernal legions possess the weak, the angry, and the criminals. With an army of demon-possessed soldiers, Andras plots to disrupt the divine plan and begin Armageddon before the world is ready. Using Malcolm, Saraqael hunts down Andras’s legionnaires one by one, as he has over the centuries. When the demons discover Malcolm’s identity, though, they bring the fight to him and kidnap his friend and wannabe lover, Pae, inspiring Malcolm to change the rules and bring Saraqael into his waking mind. Together they fight to save Pae, Philadelphia, and the world in a city that doesn’t even know it’s under siege.

First 150:

I snapped out of it Thursday morning with a pain in my jaw. Someone had punched me in the face. The adrenaline coursing through my veins was all too familiar. Damn it. Again? The man underneath me moved. Wait, he wasn’t dead yet? I don’t usually come to until it’s all over. My victim clawed and scraped at the ground, desperately reaching for… oh shit, a gun. So much for trying to stop. My hands were bloody already. I hit him hard in the back of the head. It was frighteningly exhilarating. Despite my history, violence is kind of a new thing for me. Blood splattered out beneath him. Something snapped. He screamed.

Why? Why can’t I just go out to a movie like a normal person—a normal person who goes right the hell home after the show ends? I hit him again. I’d like to be merciful, but chances were that he didn’t have much left anyway and it’s not like I could just get up and apologize.

 


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Blackout – An Excerpt

April 2, 2012 5:45 pm by MRM in Writing

I’m back! Huzzah. March was been a crazy month for a number of reasons, the most exciting of which (for me) is that I bought a house. That was the single most stressful transaction of my life, but it’s all over now, so I can finally feel like a grown-up. Yes, I’m over thirty and my little brother has a kid, but I’ve always felt like I was in a state of suspended post-adolescence, probably because I was in school until I was 27.

One other exciting thing has been going on, writing-wise: I’ve really been powering through my latest work, Blackout, and I thought you might enjoy a sample of the reason TWDY 5 has been a little delayed. I mentioned Blackout in my previous post, but I just to recap: the MC is a math teacher in west Philadelphia who is being periodically possessed by the Angel of Death to assassinate members of a demonic cult. None of this is particularly important in the snippet below, but I’m really jazzed about how easy and quick the sentence long elevator pitch for this book is.

Our hero is one Malcolm Anders, teacher, boxer, amateur parkour enthusiast, and unconscious killer. Here, Pae Xiaolu, one of his former students, now a senior in college, brings her parents and friends to watch him in a parkour competition in Center City Philly. I had more fun introducing her parents than I have any other characters in any story I’ve written, except perhaps for Roland in TWDY. Sundari is a fellow teacher at Malcolm’s school and his best friend. Hope you enjoy.



Sundari marveled as I set about checking the obstacles and planning my freestyle routine. There were fifty competitors meandering about, occasionally doing warm-up front flips off the walls. The biggest crowd was around the Love sculpture and the drained fountain beside it. We weren’t allowed to touch the actual sculpture. Years of being a public work of art ensured it was sturdy, but they couldn’t have a bunch of idiots vaulting off of it for show. Everybody had a plan to incorporate it nonetheless. Other than the Liberty Bell, it was the most famous symbol of the city. I wondered whether or not the stand counted as part of the sculpture. If it was only the letters that I couldn’t touch, then I might be able to vault up and do a handstand, framing the sculpture with my legs for a second before I flipped off. This needed clarification.

Sundari tapped my shoulder. “Why does the scaffolding go up so much higher than the seats?”

“So I can climb it and jump off.”

Her eyes bulged. “Are you kidding me? You’re going to jump off of that?”

I shrugged. “Probably. I might have to for the speed course.”

“That must be thirty feet high!”

I pointed out a raised wood platform. “That’s only about fifteen feet down, and if you hit it and roll, you’re fine. You just have to be ready to jump back off the platform to the ground when you come up from the roll.”

By ten o’clock, the crowd had started gathering. I checked in and got my number and my times to report to the speed course start and the freestyle start. I’m not famous, so I had an early start time. I knew I could be competitive, though. This was my city, my day, and damn it, I still had a buzz from killing someone this morning. I probably shouldn’t have enjoyed that aspect of my preparation, but something in my body really did.

At quarter to noon, I saw Pae. How could I not? She was wearing shorts that were arguably cut to be a bathing suit bottom and a bright pink midriff-baring tank top. Her three friends were similarly attired and proportioned, but had the misfortune of walking next to her. The only person turning more heads than Pae was the taller, older woman behind her. I recognized her instantly: Pae’s mom.

I had thought Pae was bullshitting me when she’d said her mother had been a Swedish bikini model. I forget what the context of the conversation was. That night, I had googled her mother’s name. And that’s how I had come across a few dozen pictures of Aaltje Mikkelsen in her twenties. In some, she wore a barely-there bikini and wore it well. In others, she wore less, and wore it even better. Pae waved and steered the group towards Sundari and I. When they were ten feet away, the cluster of Amazonian blondeness parted enough for me to see a pudgy, balding Chinese man walking beside Aaltje. That would be Yu Xiaolu, who must have saved the planet in a previous life. He wore a yellow, short-sleeved button-down shirt with an Asian-style half collar, khaki shorts with cargo pockets, and Rainbow flip-flops. The top three buttons of his shirt were undone, revealing a white tank top undershirt and a tuft of chest hair. I could only assume he wore his shorts so loose to accommodate his gargantuan balls, because I’ve never seen a couple more mismatched. Aaltje was four inches taller than him without the pumps she wore, and in a clingy blue and white summer dress she started my blood boiling before she lowered her stylishly-oversized sunglasses to get a better look at me.

Pae greeted me with a hug. I wasn’t in much position to refuse. “Hi Malcolm! I had no idea this thing was going to be so huge. Are you excited?”

So it wasn’t Mr. Anders in front of her parents and friends. I could play along for a day. “Glad you could make it, Lucy.” She gave me a relieved grin when I didn’t call her Pae. “I’m always excited for a competition. This is my friend Sundari. Your parents, I assume?”

Aaltje stepped forward and extended her hand in an old-fashioned-lady-style kiss-my-hand kind of gesture. I caught myself leaning forward to do exactly that just in time to turn it into a step forward to clasp her hand in both of mine and shake it gently, the only other way I know how to meet such a greeting. She curtsied and flipped her hair.

“It is very nice to meet you, Mr. Anders. My daughter speaks highly of you.” Her accent could have come straight out of an eighties porno. “Tell me, you pronounce you name Ahn-ders, not Ann-ders, are you Swedish?”

“My grandfather immigrated. His name was Andersen, but he dropped the suffix when he came to the States. We still have family in Stockholm, but I haven’t seen them in years.”

Pae’s father stared at me from the back of the group. “Why’d you drop out of school, Anders?” If Aaltje’s accent came from an eighties porno, then Yu’s was from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. If I was ordered to come up with a racist caricature of a Chinese man, it would sound like Yu Xiaolu. He didn’t offer to shake my hand, so I stood my distance and didn’t try to shake his.

“I took a masters and went into teaching, Mr. Xiaolu.”

“Pae said you were PhD student when you taught her class. You got masters degree and left. I did my PhD at Stanford; we had people like that. They were dropouts.”

How kind. “I decided to focus on teaching, and I didn’t want to be a nomad, going wherever I could get a post-doc and then hoping someone died so I could find a tenure-track position at a college in a livable area. The market is pretty crowded at the high end for math professors.”

Yu pressed on with the interrogation. “You could do industry. Lots of math PhD’s in computer companies, finance. Pays much better than teaching.”

“I like teaching, and right now I’m quite glad I didn’t take the advice of the recruiter from Lehman Brothers who was after me when I graduated.”

Aaltje never flinched while her husband grilled me. I couldn’t be sure, but I thought I saw the corner of her lip turn up. She found the whole thing amusing. Pae, on the other hand, squirmed in place with a kill-me-now look. She didn’t interrupt her father, though. Her friends stood behind her and looked away, doing their best to hide giggles at the awkwardness of the situation.

Yu folded his arms. “Pae said you help with her classes.”

“That’s what she hires me to do.”

He gestured to the dozens of freerunners practicing on the equipment. “Why do all this?”

Really? I wondered if he thought I was banging his daughter. “Because I like it. I grew up a gymnast, and I like competition. It keeps me in shape.”

“If you have time to do that—”

I cut him off. “Mr. Xiaolu, I teach your daughter math on a contract basis. How I like to exercise and my career path isn’t relevant to that. Right now, I’ve got to go get ready for the first part of the competition. It was very nice to meet you.” I offered him my hand. He hesitated, then shook it. I turned back to Aaltje and shook her hand again. “Ms. Xiaolu.”

She flashed me a practiced, cover-girl smile. “Call, me Aaltje, please.”

“Of course.” I turned to Pae. “Lucy, thanks for coming. I’m up fifth on the speed round. You can probably get the best view of everything from up on in the bleachers there, and you should be able to get a flier that explains the course from one of the people wandering around.”

Pae hugged me again and whispered in my ear. “Sorry about that. And thanks for calling me Lucy.”

“Don’t worry,” I whispered back. “I’ve dealt with worse from parents.”


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Schedules and Progress

First things first: TWDY 4 – Blood Money is out an in eStores now! Check it out in the Kindle store or on Smashwords. I’ve been pressed for time due to an abundance of projects lately, and I didn’t get a chance to post a big announcement blog when Blood Money went live last week. I did get the cover art graphic for the front page slider on my home page ready the day of publication, though, which is a first for me.

(Side note for people using Kindle Direct Publishing: it turns out you have to manually add books to your AuthorCentral page, which I had forgotten until I was checking the link to write this post).

As I mentioned last post, I’m sticking to a schedule of four main projects: TWDY, City of Magi (querying), Joyriders, and Blackout. I’m fighting the urge to spend too much time on Blackout, which is natural because that’s a brand new book and filled with all the shiny expectations and simple joy of putting a new story together. There’s really nothing else like it—that’s the reason I started writing in the first place.

To keep myself honest, I came up with a Google calendar schedule that emails me the assignment every morning. I spend at least three days on new material, be that Blackout or TWDY, and two days on query stuff and editing. Needless to say, I look forward to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings more than Tuesday and Thursday. I’m also going to be keeping more regular tabs on my progress and posting them here.

Joyriders Issue 1 is theoretically ready to be published, though I’ll be seeking at least one more editorial opinion before I pull the trigger. Part of my recalcitrance is that I don’t to commit to two regular series. Keeping TWDY going while querying my book and a short story (which I’ve been neglecting) is already a lot. Joyriders is a great story and deserves to be told. For that matter, it needs more of my mindshare than it is currently getting.

TWDY 5 is a work in progress, with two full chapters complete and probably six more coming. The first season of TWDY is going to wrap up with issue 6, and I’ll be creating a compendium from those to sell as Volume 1. I had originally planned to go just five issues, but there are some threads that need to be addressed that I just don’t see myself getting to in 5 issues. We’ll see. I also have the option of making Issue 5 a monster “season finale.” I don’t intend to lay off of TWDY afterwards—I’m having too much fun writing it and loving all the reader feedback that I’ve been getting. That being said, I do need to slow down a bit. I’m targeting April for the release of Issue 5, and if there is an issue 6 it will likely be June or July, depending on how much writing I do on vacation.

My City of Magi work is pretty close to finished, though of course things could always be tweaked. I have a synopsis that I’m trying to cut down. It started at 2100 words, and I’ve got it down to 1512. I’m aiming for 1000, so there’s still work to do. My query letter is more or less in final form. I’ll just have to cross my fingers and hope soon.

Blackout is an interesting creature. It stands at just over 19000 words now, and it’s the first book of which I’ve done a complete plot outline before getting too far into it. I can tell you now how the book ends. But I won’t. It’s also the first book that I’ve ever written in the first person. I’m not going to go out and do present tense because I kind of hate that, but it is a fun experiment. It’s also the first writing exercise I’ve pushed out into a full book.

The only other project I’m jugging is the short story Magi Rebellion – Part One, a short story written in the world of City of Magi providing the backstory for the city of Dein Astos. I’ve shopped it once and need to keep putting it out there. If nothing happens after a while I’ll publish my planned trio of short stories using the magic of KDP. It’s a story worth being told.


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Back in the Saddle

February 8, 2012 5:15 pm by MRM in News, Projects

I’ve been radio silent for far too long, and mostly it has to do with juggling a million projects at once, including an exciting new one that I’ll post excerpts from shortly. The projects of note are:

1. Those Who Die Young – Issue 4: Obviously. Barring a disaster, this will be published next week and I’ll have cover art up and ready for you later this week. Some of my more loyal readers might notice a title change. At the end of Issue 3, I declared (in the preview section) that Issue 4 would be entitled “Bloody Mess.” My wise editor thought that was horrible when she heard about it, and after much consideration, I think she’s right. I came up with the much cooler (and still applicable) new title, “Blood Money,” which we both agreed was a massive improvement.

2. TWDY – Issue 5: Next week will mark the first time in TWDY history I’ve published issue N without first completing issue N+1. I have written some of it and I know what happens, but I haven’t gotten a rough draft banged out yet.

3. Official Query Letter – City of Magi: I’m super excited about this one. City of Magi is complete, revised, and ready to be queried. There are two minor stumbling points to that, though. One is that to query, you need a query letter. I’ll post a little about that later, or perhaps just leave the interested reader to the eight million conflicting advice columns that already exist. The second is the submission package, which includes…

4. Synopsis – City of Magi: I’m still fumbling with this one, fighting to get it down to size. I didn’t end up reducing the size of City of Magi as much as I had hoped (final length, 273K words), but with a synopsis, your freedom is considerably restricted. This is very much a work in progress right now.

5. Joyriders – Issue 1: This is actually copy edited and almost ready to roll. I’ve had the cover art up for months now, and for some reason I just never judged this as ready for prime time. I suspect my focus on TWDY had something to do with that, and part of my reluctance is definitely that I won’t be able to push out issues of Joyriders like I have TWDY without sacrificing the latter, and I have a big emotional attachment to Lear and Erica, not to mention readers that actively bug me about publishing more. This could come out as soon as next month, but I’ll have to really consider whether I want to make a dangling commitment like that, particularly given…

6. A brand new book. I know, I know. Why? Well, this is something that I just got addicted to. The book is called Blackout, and it’s a supernatural thriller set in modern Philadelphia about a schoolteacher who gets periodically possessed by the angel of death to assassinate the members of a demonic cult threatening both the celestial and earthly worlds. The protagonist has no idea why he is being possessed, only that he keeps waking up over the bodies of people he has apparently killed.

I’ve been spectacularly hooked on Blackout of late, and it’s hard to deny the fun that this story is going to be to write. The difficulty is mostly in keeping my other projects moving, which I absolutely intend to do. My prioritization list reads something like

  1. City of Magi submission packet
  2. TWDY
  3. Blackout
  4. Joyriders

I just have to get my time spent on each to reflect this, as I’ve been succumbing to temptation to write Blackout more than anything else. I also have some crits that I owe my fellow writers. In all of this, one other commitment has been left in the cold: blogging. I’m trying not to do that, and to a certain extent I’m being pushed not to do that by virtue of my upcoming publications, but there are only so many hours in the day that I can spend writing. I’m still learning to juggle stories well. It is taking considerably longer than it took me to learn to juggle actual objects (I can do pins and spheroids, but no more than three).

February is going to be an interesting month, and I’ll do my best to get my work out into the real world instead of the confines of my Dropbox.


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