To every subscriber of my mailing list, you should just have received the three Halloween stories in your inbox!
Happy ghosty-ghouly crawly-candy day!
If you didn't get the email, check your Junk and Promotions folders. If you still don't have it, add firstname.lastname@example.org and then contact me using the Contact Me button on the site. I'll send you the stories directly.
I said this in the message too, but very soon I'll give ALL the short stories so far another copy editing pass (they don't receive the editing attention I give to my books, so I'd like to cleanse them of the typo scourge) and repackage them into one file. Then I'll send everyone a single PDF containing ALL the short stories.
So if you're missing one, or if you think you may be missing one, you'll have your collection complete soon. And if you don't have any of the free stories at all, sign up soon!
By the way, if you like short stories, did you know that my collection of Traveler's Gate short stories is FREE for the next five days? It's true!
Enjoy your night! Don't get bitten by a werewolf and die! Get bitten by a werewolf and survive, thus gaining their powers.
As I indicated recently, I've been working on the three short stories I owe you. I intended to release one last week, one this week, and one on Halloween, but they all ended up Halloween-themed.
'Tis the season, I guess.
So...on Monday, if you're signed up for the short stories, expect some tricks and treats from me! Two of the stories are darker and creepier than my usual bent, so be aware of that if you can't handle mild ghost stories. If you're a big horror buff, on the other hand, don't get your hopes too high--I haven't strayed that far from my normal territory.
No matter what your tastes, though, you should all be fine with the Traveler's Gate story. It's about Simon out of his element in a holiday masquerade ball.
From the world of the Elder Empire: Unsolved Cases of the Blackwatch
From the world of the Traveler's Gate: The Reaping Dance
From Cradle: A Sword Unclean
After much soul-searching, and some ear-whispering from both the angel on my right shoulder and the Cradle fan on my left, I've come up with something of a compromise!
But it's going to require some explaining.
First of all, what makes Elder Empire such a big deal to write is how long each pair takes to create. Six months is an optimistic estimate, assuming that everything goes well (which, for Dawn, things did not go well. I had to start it over, which led to me excluding certain Easter eggs that I had promised would be included). And 6-9 months with no releases means my momentum, and by extension any word-of-mouth recommendations, grind to a halt.
Which means that during such a time the business isn't growing much, I'm not gaining many readers, and (incidentally) I'm not making money.
At the same time, they are "difficult" to plan, in much the same way that it is "difficult" to juggle a plate in each hand while riding a bear. I'm writing two books, which you would reasonably expect to take twice as much effort, but in fact it's more than that.
The Elder Empire books encompass four storylines over three timelines that all intersect and interact with one another. And with the other books in the series. I have to know where each character is, was, and will be at all times for everyone, or I risk digging plot holes big enough to squeeze a Great Elder through.
Which means that the hardest part of those books, and the step that often takes the longest, is the planning stage.
For many authors, that's normal. They might spend two months planning for every month of writing. Not for me. I'm more of a "Why would I need an airplane when I have the seat of my pants?" kind of guy. I always have an idea of where my stories are headed and what I want to do with them, and I'm always headed toward those milestones, but I'm also always open to changing my mind and veering into unexplored territory.
Such variations in schedule led to the birth of Kai. And the talking dolls. And the mask. And Bliss. And Kelarac. And Cradle's entire existence.
(To clarify, most of the major plot twists in the Cradle series I had planned from the very beginning--including ones that haven't come about yet--but I never would have written Unsouled in the first place if not for my nigh-suicidal eagerness to plunge off the predicted course).
I expect to spend the first period of time--let's call it a month or two--of the Of Kings and Killers writing cycle doing nothing but planning and re-planning. As I considered that reality and contemplated my calendar, I realized something: there's no reason I couldn't be writing another book while I'm doing that. I won't be putting out word count on OKAK, I'll just be plotting and fact-checking, so I can still hammer out words on something else.
This brings me to the title of this post, and the aforementioned compromise.
I'm going to alternate.
I started planning Blackflame yesterday morning, after which I will begin to write the first draft. While I'm doing that, I'll start plotting OKAK. When I'm editing Blackflame, I'll start writing OKAK's draft. Then I'll release Blackflame.
So the plan is Blackflame in 3-4 months, Of Kings and Killers in the middle of next year. And maybe if the simultaneous writing thing works out, I might get Cradle #4 out of it as well. As sort of a surprise.
As usual, though, let me give the required caveat: all release date information is subject to the cruel and fickle whims of fate. No release date information is final until I say it is (which usually means the final announcement comes only a week or two before release, as longtime followers will both loathe and remember).
Let me know how much you hate me to my core/want to kiss my beautiful face in the comments, and as always, thanks for reading! I know I'm always changing things around, but I'm figuring this out one step at a time. I'm just trying to keep getting better, and to keep writing books.
Thanks for sticking with me.
P.S. For a little bit of context, yesterday and the day before were my highest sales days ever. And this month, October, is going to be my best-selling month so far. That's not just from Cradle--although it is mostly Cradle--because my Traveler's Gate sales started climbing almost out of nowhere as well, and even Elder Empire has picked up.
It's almost as though, when people enjoy Cradle, they go back and read my other books afterwards.
Since my last post, I've gone to California for a wedding, come back, lapsed into a coma, gotten sick, recovered, and now I'm back! Fairly normal post-book schedule.
I'm sorry it took me so long to respond to your comments and/or emails, but I'm back now! You should hear from me very soon, if you haven't already.
This week, I'm dedicating myself to writing short stories. I owe you two, and one for this month (although I'll probably wait until Halloween to deliver October's, for reasons that should be obvious). I'll keep you updated as I work on them, but I hope to have all three finished this week (and maybe a head start on November's as well).
In the meantime, Soulsmith is still selling well! I mean, really well. I mean, everyone I trust to give me business advice is telling me to write Blackflame next.
I'm trying to stay strong for Kings and Killers! But they're wearing me down...it's...so cold...
The cage match has ended, and only one warrior has emerged from this battle royale with bloody fists held high.
Here are the results of your collective opinion, after filtering out all the duplicate entries from the same IP addresses. Nice try, guy who voted for Cradle 46 times. And to those of you who voted for everything once each...why? That keeps the poll results exactly the same. I'm baffled.
To the results!
In fourth place, with the aluminum foil medal, is "I didn't read one or the other of those series, so TRAVELER'S GATE!" with 48 votes.
The bronze medalist is "I know you're going to write what you want, so I prefer not to waste my valuable life on this poll," with 71 votes! Evidently only 71 of you value your lives.
Riding shotgun in silver is...drumroll please...Elder Empire! That's not a surprise in itself, since Cradle is more recent and has sold more books, but the 111 of you who voted for Of Killers and Kings / Of Kings and Killers next are more likely to end up happier than anyone else who voted this week.
And the champion, the winner, the gold medalist, the king of the poll, is Blackflame with a staggering 504 votes.
For real, though, that's unbelievable. That's a LOT of votes. To quote Reddit, "RIP my inbox," because I got every one of these poll entries emailed to me.
Thank you to the 734 of you who voted for sharing your opinion! If you voted for Cradle, know that a lot of other people agree with you. If you voted for Elder Empire, know that I agree with you. And if you voted for something else, way to stick it to the man.
The man, in this case, being me.
There has been some extensive discussion in the previous comment section about which book I should write next--I said Elder Empire, you said Cradle, an Elder Empire fan punched you in the jaw, you had to go through four months of physical therapy, and your first words upon recovery were "Cradle next."
This may or may not influence my decision, but I'm always interested to hear your opinions, and the previous comment section was growing uncomfortably extensive.
So if you have your opinion, throw it into the comments below! Pitchforks encouraged!
Let this distract you from the fact that yesterday was the last day in September, and I didn't write a short story! Go! Turn on each other instead of me!
"Calder straightened his back, focused his mind, and opened the door."
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