Deathmatch #2 - Return of the Death went out to the mailing list just a few minutes ago, right before midnight my time (although sometimes it takes a few minutes to get the email, so if you don't have it yet, just wait)!
By definition, that will be the last story of 2016, so Happy New Year!
And it will be the tenth piece of content I sent to mailing list subscribers since I started the mailing list, ten months ago: nine short stories and one preview of Unsouled.
Great year, everybody! Thanks for sticking with me, and I'll do my best to make all the stories in 2017 the best so far!
P.S. If you're signed up for the mailing list but you're not getting the stories, it's likely because your email provider is eating them. Gmail is especially bad about this. Check your junk mail and your promotions tab, and if they aren't there, add email@example.com to your Contacts list. That will make sure you get future messages.
P.P.S. And then after you've done all that, let me know what stories you're missing, and I'll send them to you. Happy New Year!
Mailing list story going out RIGHT NOW! And instead of being either of the stories I had planned and worked on, it's a Deathmatch instead, because WHY NOT?
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
I'm still working on Blackflame (obviously, because what else would I be doing with my time?), but there's been a recurring notion in the comments for some time now that I'm setting up for a gladiator-style death match among all my characters.
I'm not saying I am doing that, and I'm not saying I'm not, but it suggests to me a fun little game we could play in the comments below this blog.
You propose a matchup between two of my characters, or one of my characters and a character from a totally different work, and tell me how you think it would end up. You can use as much or as little detail as you want to. Example: "Simon versus Superman: I know Superman would throw him into the sun, but how long do you think he could run before Superman caught him and threw him into the sun? I say an eighth of a second, but what do you think?"
I will respond to these comments, as can anyone else who wants to. For instance, in this case, I might say "I think Simon would last negative three days. As soon as the match began, Superman would fly around the earth and reverse time, picking an unaware Simon up three days before the match began and throwing him into the sun."
Other, more fair matchups might be more interesting.
This won't lead anywhere, and I'm not going to do anything with this, but it seems like a fun thing to do over the days leading up to Christmas. Also, it's a good way for you to squeeze out hints about how strong I think certain characters are, like the Emperor. Or Eithan. Or even the emperor of the Blackflame Empire, who has yet to be introduced.
Pro tip: Suriel versus any mortal is going to result in that mortal being banished out of space and time. My only response will be "Suriel banishes them out of space and time."
So...fights to the death. Go!
So you remember two weeks ago when I said I was trying to get a short story out by the next day?
Well, here's why: because I was leaving my apartment to do nothing but write for two solid weeks, and I knew that if I didn't squeeze the short story out before I left, it would be two more weeks.
And I didn't. And it's been two more weeks. And I'm sorry. I need to stop calling them monthly short stories and call them something like...regular short stories. Or short stories I release when I'm not trying to hammer a book out in a short amount of time.
That said, this will be the tenth month since I started doing the mailing list short story thing, and if I finish and send out this Cradle one as well as a Simon one for Christmas, then I'll have released ten in ten months! (Though to be fair, one of them was an Unsouled preview when I had yet to announce I was writing Unsouled.)
That's just as good as monthly, right? Right? ...guys?
On the bright side, I've been working non-stop on Blackflame and I actually have some measurable progress to show you! First, I'm in the process of uploading a shiny new progress meter to the right of this very post!
And second, behold:
Gasp in awe at its wonder!
I actually have the cover for book four ready too, but the reveal for that one will have to come later!
And by "later," I mean "when I come up with a title for book four." The art is done, but the type isn't, because I have yet to actually title the thing. Speaking of art, did I tell you I got the first sketch for the Killers cover back recently?
Well, I did, and it's shaping up, but those covers take a lot longer to make than the Cradle covers. I'll reveal that one when it's ready!
Thanksgiving is over, after which I had to respond to the usual deluge of work that piled up over the holiday. I'm finishing that up tonight and tomorrow, so if I haven't responded to your comment or email yet, fear not! It's coming!
One of those tasks that I've been working on is the November short story, which I'm trying to get finished and out tomorrow. Fingers crossed! It's in Cradle, because I wanted to use this opportunity to help me test out some ideas for Blackflame.
And speaking of which, the time has finally come to add one of the most-requested features to the site: a progress bar.
I haven't added one in the past, mostly because it's impossible to keep it accurate. An average week of work for me is chaotic, so a progress meter might go from 17% to 19% to 15% to ???%. Anything I put up will be an estimate by definition, because I don't know how long the book will end up or how hard it will be to get there.
Of Dawn and Darkness, for instance, took me way more work hours to complete than anticipated because it just ended up being harder to write.
Also, there are multiple phases in the writing process. I'd need to progress from 0-100% in planning, then go to word count, then editing, then the second draft, then editing again, and then usually final changes followed by release preparation. That's six phases, and they're very fluid; I go back from the first draft to planning many times.
Now that you know kind of how it works, I'm looking for your input! What should it look like? How and where should I display it? What information do you want to see when you check the site?
I saw one reader suggest marking progress in stages from Copper to Underlord, which was hilarious and appeals to me. But what do you want to see?
It's Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., which means it's time to give thanks for everything awesome in our lives!
I have a lot to be thankful for this year: my Stardew Valley crops are coming in nicely, I've begun recording the City of Light audiobook, there's a new bundle of my old stuff up, and I won a hefty Amazon Kindle Unlimited All-Stars bonus check this month!
So many people read my books on Kindle Unlimited last month that I was dubbed a Kindle Unlimited All-Star, meaning that I'm one of the top-selling writers in the Kindle Unlimited program! In fact, though they didn't tell me my exact rank, they said I was in the top thirty! That means that I'm somewhere between the twenty-first and thirtieth best-selling out of all the authors in Kindle Unlimited!
That's only counting KU borrows, but the All-Star bonus for me was an extra five thousand dollars! It's a Thanksgiving miracle!
So uh...if you have Kindle Unlimited, and you're wondering whether I get paid for KU borrows, fear not: I do!
What that tells me is that people are really enjoying the books, which is awesome! In celebration of the holiday and this new round of good fortune, I'm putting both SEA and SHADOW up for free over the next four days!
That's Black Friday through Cyber Monday, as my culture-savvy friends tell me. Why isn't there a cool name for the weekend? Like Chartreuse Saturday and Buy A Bunch of Stuff Sunday.
TL;DR - Kindle Unlimited is awesome, Of Sea and Shadow / Of Shadow and Sea are both going to be free for the next four days, and I'm thankful for you! A lot of the people on this blog have been with me since the beginning, and the ride's still going!
P.S. Next time on The Blog: after this weekend, I'm going to put up some sort of progress thingy for Blackflame. Maybe a progress bar, maybe a percentage meter, maybe periodic reports, maybe arcane symbols that flash meaning straight into your brain. We'll discuss it next time!
Have you finished both Cradle books too quickly? Do you wish there was something else you could read to scratch that itch? Are you sharpening your pitchfork right now because I'm writing something that isn't Blackflame?
Well, you're in luck!
Cradle was my humble, meager attempt to write a story in the xianxia* genre: a subcategory of Chinese novels that have grown popular on the English-speaking Internet over the last couple of years thanks to sites like WuxiaWorld and GravityTales (not to mention the hard-working, dedicated, good-looking fan translators who provide such works to lazy monolingual English-speakers like myself).
I've had a lot of people ask me if Cradle was inspired by these Chinese works, and I usually respond by saying "Absolutely!" and then listing my favorites. It's the reason why I chose to put Unsouled in the Asian Myths and Legends category of Kindle fantasy.
But after tonight, when people ask me these questions, I don't have to type out an answer every time! I can just link them back to this post! Behold, as my laziness sheds its skin to reveal its true shape!
IF YOU DON'T SEE THE REST OF THIS POST, CLICK "READ MORE"!
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.
"And then Lindon had a heart attack and died."
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