If you aren’t already signed up for my emails, you might not know that a few weeks ago I launched M.G. Herron’s SFF Book Club, introducing weekly book recommendations and adding a Facebook group for discussion.
I had been searching for a way to give back to my readers and fans. Since I am only able to publish 3-4 major books per year right now, this is also a way for me to offer you even more entertainment and value between my book launches, while I’m working on new stuff.
Why on Earth did it take me so long to crack open a Joe Abercrombie novel?
I burned through Half a King in two days, reeling and obsessed.
A “fast-paced tale of betrayal and revenge,” as George R.R. Martin puts it on the cover, this fantasy novel is swift, dark, subtle, cunning, and brutal.
Half a King tells the story of Yarvi, second son of the king of Gettland, who was born with a crippled left hand. With half a hand and the scorn of his family, he feels like half a man, and is stunned when the murder of his father and older brother shift him unexpectedly onto the throne.
If half a man can’t even stand up to his peers or hold his own in a fight, how can he expect to rule a kingdom?
Yarvi resents the position his kin’s untimely death has put him in. No one around him seems to think him remotely capable of doing the job, least of all himself. But that’s just the start of his journey. When a quest for vengeance takes an unexpected turn, Yarvi must first prove himself worthy before he can claim his birthright.
I highly recommend this one if you like medieval fantasy, or stories of vikings, or reading about ruthless cultures steeped in war. Read this one if you’re a student of human nature, because the characterization is spectacular.
I don’t know why it took me so long to read a Joe Abercrombie novel, but I’ll definitely be returning to his world soon.
Like my reading recommendations? Buy Half a King on Amazon and support this blog and Joe’s books at the same time (through Amazon’s affiliate program).
I completed the second draft of Tales of the Republic on Sunday—a full week past the crazy insane Jan 15 deadline I set. So it took longer than expected, but I got it done. And I would have blogged about it sooner, but writing and freelance work and life (and trying not to mold my ass too firmly to this chair) has kept me busy.
What’s amazing about setting a crazy deadline is that I was forced to adjust my process to fit the deadline, rather than the other way around. Instead of asking, “how long will this take?” and picking a date at the end of that span of time, I picked the date I WANTED it to be done and then said, “now how the hell am I going to make this work?”
The task expands to fill the time allotted—or shrinks, depending on the point of view. I made it work—sort of.
My story tracker from Christmas Eve (one month ago) says I was at 30% complete—after 3+ months of editing! A month later, the draft is done. The difference? A deadline. Three months for 30% vs. 1 month for 70%. And I’d wager that I suffered more in the despairing 3 month crawl than I did in the 1 month sprint. None of it would have been possible without the crazy deadline.
Again, so I remember it: I wouldn’t have finished the book this month without that deadline.
So the lesson here is to set a crazy deadline, stay the course, and go after it. Steady as you go. Even a week late is progress worth celebrating.
After submitting the manuscript on Sunday afternoon, I went to North Austin to have beer and cigars with friends. Then on Monday morning I nailed down the concept for my next story. It’s for a “monster” anthology, and the idea is a ton of fun. I’m 2k words into that now, and I’m aiming to finish it before the week is up. Easy! Can you believe that a short story feels like a vacation after that book? Fun! Energizing! Not to mention new.
I have one other scifi story to finish before Tales comes back from the editor mid-February. And once those edits are cleared out, I’ll be digging into Translocator 2, my next scifi novel. It’s going to be a blast. I’ve been working on Translocator in the background for a while so I’ve got a ton of ideas. There will probably be another crazy deadline involved, but the crazy this time will be trying to double my daily word count since I’ll be writing new drafts. I’m sure I’ll talk more about that project when I get there.
Stay tuned here if you want more fiction. Wendigo is coming out next month. In the meantime check out the fantasy short story I published last month, which you can find below the story tracker.
Tales of the Republic … Status: 2nd draft complete–out for edits … 84,671 words
“A Body of Work” … Status: Writing … 2,694 words written / 6,000 estimated total words
“The Boy and the Basilisk” … Status: Writing … 2,286 words written / 7,000 estimated total words
“Wendigo” … Status: Queued for post-production … 12,000 words
“Centurion” … Status: Out for submission … 3,000 words
“Earworm” … Status: Out for submission … 3,000 words
Whew, a lot of good stuff has happened since I last gave you a writing update.
First of all, “End of the World” has done all right for it being the first piece of fiction I’ve published in several months. I had zero expectations, so I can’t be disappointed. I’m simply happy it was well-received by those who have read it, and continues to sell a bit.
But my focus has been on what’s next. Edits for my next fantasy story, “The Door Below the Comic Store” came back, and I’ve already gone through those and produced the ebook. I need to finish the paperback, and then that should be available about January 10th (my target).
My newsletter finds out about everything first, so sign up if you want to be notified (and get a free review copy!) Here’s the cover for “The Door Below the Comic Store”.
Edits for “Wendigo” also came back. This is a paranormal/horror story, a bit of a departure from my usual stuff, but in a good way if you like dark and twisted stuff. It’s inspired by the Wendigo legend of the Navajo tribe, and is about twice the length of most of my short stories: 12,000 words, either a long short story or a short novella depending how you want to look at it.
Funny story: I totally botched the ending of “Wendigo” the first time through. I sat on it, knowing something was wrong, for a couple months before I finally gave up and sent it to my editor. I knew, for certain, that I screwed something up, but sometimes you need an objective opinion. Once I realized it was the ending that was the problem (thanks to my editor and the help of a writer friend), it only took a few hours of focused work to fix it. “Wendigo” also has a creepy cover that I’ve already picked out, and will share soon. That one is slated for release in February.
So now, as you can see, I’m ahead of the curve as far as scheduling goes. That’s never happened before, but damn it feels good. Things are going to be different in 2017.
And that’s not all!
I also wrote 3k words of a new science fiction story that I’m calling, “A Body of Work.” I doubt that will be the final title, as I almost always change titles several times before a story is done. This is a hard science fiction story set in the near future, after Earth has colonized Mars and built a dozen habitable space stations in near-Earth orbit. Also, aliens. Fun stuff!
And finally, I made a smidge of progress on Tales of the Republic. Par for the course there. Now that I’m ahead of schedule, I’m going to make a big effort to change that and get through it sooner. Won’t speak to launch dates yet (I’ve made that mistake before…sorry).
2017 is definitely going to be different.
Which story are you most excited about? Leave a comment to let me know.
Last day to enter 12 Days of Books giveaway
Oh yes! And today is the lat day to enter the 12 Days of Books Giveaways. Click that link and leave your email to enter 12 signed novels.
Tales of the Republic … Status: Revising … Second draft, 30% complete (24,088 words revised / 80,000 estimated total words)
“The Door Below the Comic Store” … 6,000 words … Status: Post-production
“Wendigo” … 12,000 words … Status: Queued for post-production
“A Body of Work” … Status: Writing (2,694 words written / 6,000 estimated total words)
“Centurion” … 3,000 words … Status: Out for submission
“Earworm” … 3,000 words … Status: Out for submission
Holy wow, Christmas is coming up fast! To celebrate the holidays, I’m participating in a 12 Days of Books promotion with some very awesome authors. From now until Christmas, you can enter to win the whole set of 12 signed science fiction and fantasy books, including my own novel, The Auriga Project, E.J. Wenstrom’s Mud: Chronicles of the Third Realm War, Jade Kerrion’s Perfection Unleashed, and a many more!
I’ll post some more blogs going into the books being included in more detail. In the meantime, you can browse the websites of the other participating authors for more ways to enter and good books to read. Here’s the full list:
Is speculative fiction the same as science fiction and fantasy? Here's a popular definition of speculative fiction, some reading recommendations, and an introduction to the debate about the term among the SF community.