Settling in in an unsettled world: Summer 2020

Just a quick note to assure you I’m still alive and well.

We moved into our new home on Bainbridge Island, across Puget Sound from Seattle, on March 25. We like it here a lot. Unfortunately, the pandemic made it difficult to really get to know the place, and to furnish the house, as we had disposed of about half of our furniture before we left Maryland. There are still two major items on order, though one is scheduled for delivery later today.

It took awhile to get the computers sorted out, too. Both my desktop machines had issues from spending so long in storage. That’s been dealt with, and Chloe, my primary computer, is once again up to date and fully functional.

Anyway, with all this going on I haven’t been writing very much. The final draft of Tom Derringer & the Steam-Powered Saurians is finished and just waiting for the two illustrations I commissioned. I’ve made a little progress (not much) on Tom Derringer & the Electrical Empire and Charming Sharra, and have started a couple of new stories, “The Bone Wheel” and “I Didn’t See You.” Two new Ethshar stories have been started as well, “The Almoner” and Dancing with Wizards (not the final title)

The audiobook of Touched by the Gods is done, and we’re just waiting for ACX/Audible to clear it for release; apparently they’re backlogged.

I’ve been working on getting my website up to date again. Finished all the easy stuff, still dealing with the more complicated bits.

And that’s about all, for now.

I’m Biding My Time.

I think I’ve figured out what I’m going to do with this blog. It will take over as where I post progress reports on my works in progress, which always used to go on my SFF Net newsgroup. (They may appear elsewhere, as well.)

But that will have to wait until I have other stuff squared away. Bear with me.

Here We Are Again

Hey, guys.

I messed up the transfer to my new webhost.  I still have all the data from the old Serial Box, but not in an easy-to-import form, and the more I thought about it, the less I saw any reason to keep it.  All those serials are finished.

So here we have a new, unsullied blog, to do with as I please, and I learned from the experience so that when I switch my last domain over to the new host, I know how to bring all the old posts from that blog with me.

Now, if anyone wants me to make a serious effort to recover the old stuff, I can try, but for now I’m fine with starting fresh.

So here we are.

Situation Report

I am going to be moving my websites to a new host shortly. I am not sure whether this blog will make the transition, so I thought I should give anyone who still reads it fair warning — this may all disappear suddenly.

If it does survive, there shouldn’t be any major changes.

Meanwhile, I’m about a third of the way through the second draft of Stone Unturned. I did not split out The Petrified Prince, though I’m not 100% sure I made the right call on that. And serializing it would have been a disaster — I am still rearranging chapters.

I don’t know whether there will be further Ethshar novels any time soon; I have other projects I’m giving a higher priority.

In case this is the end of this blog: Thanks for your support!

The End of An Era (or at least a serial)

Well, so much for that.

I have received and approved the contracts for Relics of War, a.k.a. Ishta’s Companion, and will sign them when I find a pen. This means I need (per Wildside’s request) to shut down the online serial.

Said serial got twenty-two chapters into a twenty-four-chapter novel; very disappointing. I think this pretty much settles the possibility of doing any more serials this way; they aren’t worth the trouble anymore.

I’m not sure yet what this means for the future of Ethshar, or my writing career in general. Given the way things have gone for the past five years or so, I think I’m effectively retired as a novelist, whether I want to be or not. Not that I’m going to quit writing, but I’m no longer necessarily going to consider it my full-time job. I’ll continue writing as a hobby. Haven’t yet decided whether to look for another job or not — I have enough investments that I don’t really need to work anymore, though money will be tight if I don’t. (I’m not counting my wife’s income in this calculation; with that, we’ll actually be quite comfortable.)

I’d be interested in feedback, folks — suggestions, advice, comments, anything.

Planning for the Future

Okay, Ethshar and serial fans, I’m thinking about what I want to do about future projects.

The fact is, regular advances have been dropping as paperback sales nosedive, and the big publishers have become far harder to sell to if you aren’t a young woman writing about vampires. Small presses, on the other hand, have been cashing in on the rise of ebooks — in many cases, more effectively than the traditional big houses — and have more money available than ever before. Self-publishing is also more viable now than at any time in the past century, thanks to ebooks.

So I’m planning to switch more of my output (possibly all of it) to non-traditional routes — the difference in money is no longer the overwhelming thing it used to be. I’ll be writing more Ethshar novels and other stuff I want to write, regardless of whether anyone in New York thinks it’s commercially viable.

But do I want to do these as serials-followed-by-small-press, or should I just write ’em and send them straight to Wildside and/or FoxAcre without bothering to serialize them? Or should I self-publish?

Do you guys like the serial format, or just consider it a necessary evil to get the stories you want to read?

As for small press vs. self-publishing, I’m not sure any of you guys care; the big difference there is whether I want to do all my own editing and formatting and marketing, or let a publisher take a huge slice of the money in exchange for taking all that work off my hands. A small press means there will be a hardcopy edition, probably cheaper than if I self-publish one, but the ebooks will be about the same. If anyone has advice on the subject, though, I’d like to see it.

Another question: Are you guys only interested in Ethshar, or would you be willing to pay for other stuff, too? Not sequels to twenty-year-old science fiction; I’ve learned my lesson there. But I have several other projects I’d like to write — The Dragon’s Price, for example, which is a big ol’ fantasy novel I wrote fifty pages of and then put aside as Not What Tor Wanted. Or more of the Bound Lands series that started with A Young Man Without Magic and Above His Proper Station — I had a dozen plotted, and more than a hundred pages of On A Field Sable written, when Tor dropped the series.

I’m considering maybe putting those on Kickstarter, and writing them if they attract enough pledged support.

Oh, incidentally, watch for several small-press reprint projects coming up — Wildside and I are discussing Tales of Ethshar, collecting all the short Ethshar stories (including the first chapter of The Unwanted Wardrobe), and a bunch of mini-collections of my short fiction are in the works. We’re also discussing reprinting assorted novels that aren’t currently in print.

So — here’s your chance to tell me what you want to see from me, and in what form. Talk to me.

Long-term plans

I’ve been giving some thought to the longer term, and here’s what I’m hoping to do:

Complete Realms of Light in the spring of 2009.

Start The Final Calling in the summer of 2009. This is the Ethshar novel that finally wraps up the overall story of warlocks. I haven’t actually written any of it as yet, but I have a decent outline, and today I worked out the exact structure of the opening and how it’s going to work. I won’t start by posting Chapter One for this one, but by posting a short story called “The Warlock’s Refuge.” That story will also be a prologue to the novel, and a bridge connecting it to Night of Madness. The Final Calling will complete the warlock arc of the Ethshar series; all told it’ll be four novels and a short story: Night of Madness, “The Warlock’s Refuge,” The Unwilling Warlord, The Vondish Ambassador, and The Final Calling.

When that’s done — probably early in 2010 — I plan to serialize a science-fantasy novel called Vika’s Avenger. It’s already written; I wrote it on a whim, but ran into the fact that the current publishing market is in such bad shape that my agent doesn’t think I can get any more money for it from a real publisher than I would serializing it. This may change; if market conditions shift, it may yet wind up with a traditional publisher. If not, well — it’s twenty-eight chapters, so it’ll take six and a half months, assuming readers like it enough to keep the money coming in.

After that, late in 2010 I hope to start another Ethshar novel, either The Sorcerer’s Widow (which, despite the title, is about a pair of swindlers who may become recurring characters), or Azraya of Ethshar. I have an outline and half a chapter of The Sorcerer’s Widow, and a detailed outline of Azraya of Ethshar. Azraya has the interesting feature that several scenes in it have already been seen from different viewpoints in With A Single Spell and Taking Flight; I’m not sure whether that’ll make it easier or harder to write.

All schedules are approximate, since I don’t actually know how long three of these four novels will run, and there may be delays while I, you know, earn a living, or do other stuff. Also, any or all of these may be delayed — any time I don’t get enough money to post a chapter, that pushes everything back.

This is all subject to change, but it’s what I have in mind at the moment, and I thought some of you might be interested.

Next chapter at: $1,200
Current total: $1,135

Damned Spammers

Okay, I give up.  I had hoped to avoid blacklisting the words “Prozac” and “pharmacy,” since they might come up in actual conversation, but I can’t.  If you want to mention any pharmaceuticals in comments, you’ll have to find alternate phrasings.

The list of forbidden words is getting pretty long.  Sigh.

And here we go…

So The Vondish Ambassador is begun, a couple of months later than I’d hoped; my apologies for the delay.

I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have about it — about the story, about the payment set-up, whatever.