I hope that’s not arrogant to say. Or maybe it should be obvious. After all, if I don’t like them, why would I expect anyone else to?
The explanation behind this unusual statement is that I was doing some research while working on my latest book (Vitalis: Catalyst). I didn’t have notes written on what I was after (something from Vitalis: Genesis), so I had to read through some of the book to find what I wanted. Well, reading a little soon turned into reading a lot. I was sucked in and couldn’t stop myself.
This isn’t the first time that’s happened. It happens a lot, actually. Whenever I need to do something like that, I get pulled in. I’d do it more often but I have this irrational fear that when I read a book I wrote a while ago, I’m going to find parts of it that I don’t like. Things I want to rewrite or change. Or parts that just plain suck. None of that has happened yet, for the record, although on rare occasions I do find typos that got missed through multiple rounds of editing. No such problems this time, but that irrational fear lingers.
That also serves as a refresher for me. Sales are in the water closet (that’s a fancy term for shitter for us working folks) lately, so my natural assumption is that I’m writing garbage. Sure, I know they’ve taken a dive for virtually everybody out there and a lot of it has to do with Amazon’s fluctuating algorithms and attempts to monetize their own product lines and brands as much as possible, but the demons hiding in the shadows still linger and wait for me to turn away so they can pounce.
I was wondering though, why do I enjoy what I write so much? I’ve written a lot – over 100 books between myself and my shared projects – and I’ve forgotten bits and pieces of everything. Being reminded of them is a blast. It’s more than that though, it’s also my writing style. I write what I like to read. Fast paced, fun, thoughtful, and challenging. Or at least that’s what I like to think I’m writing!
I had a business trip recently and I wanted something to do on the plane (my laptop is too damn big to write on during a flight since I can’t afford first class). I picked up a Terry Goodkind book (The Omen Machine), and revisited some old friends in the process (the main characters of his Sword of Truth series). I also reread the Sword of Truth series last year and found myself enjoying it less the second time around because of all the passive mumbo jumbo they contain. The Omen Machine had a little less passive stuff in it, but near the end it contained a ton of repeated stuff that was really tiresome. Practically entire chapters, in a few cases. I was disappointed and it left me in no rush to buy his next book.
I’ve still got Raymond Feist and Terry Brooks – both of whom I’ve fallen behind on. There’s Dean Koontz too, although reading anything he writes leaves me feeling like a grade school kid who’s barely learned how to spell. And of course, that doesn’t include numerous other writers worth reading like John M. Davis, M.R. Matthias, and Jane Taylor to pluck just a few of my favorite names.
And speaking of Vitalis, I’m over 40,000 words into book #10 in the series (Catalyst). I know it’s going to be another favorite because I find myself thinking about it all the time when I’m not writing. I figure I’m somewhere between halfway and 2/3 of the way through it, but the ends of my books have a way of stretching out longer than I expect them too.
I’ve been talking about Medic for a couple of months now. Way too long – not to be talking about it, but not to have it released and into your hands. That wait is over and it is now available everywhere as both ebook and print.
I made a claim of calling it a bestseller the very day it’s released. That’s bold, given my lack of marketing savvy and the fact that I believe in fair business practices. I have faith in this book though, both because of the strong brand the Wanted series has held over the years and the fact that I really think this book has something anyone can identify with.
Tom, the main character, is the kind of guy that surrounds all of us. He is us, in fact. He’s not sure who to vote for because he doesn’t really like any of the options. He goes to work and does his best, then comes home and wants to find the comfort and peace we seldom get to enjoy because there are things to do. He drives an old truck because he can’t afford a new one and because it gets him where he needs to go. He has a girlfriend that thinks the world of him and wants to help him become a better person… to the point he can hardly stand all the help she thinks he needs.
But Tom’s different too. Different from most of us, but not all of us. You see, Tom spent a couple of tours in the Middle East. He played an important part in a search and rescue crew that saved the lives of countless soldiers – or at least they tried to save lives. He’d lived through some of the worst that war had to offer and survived. Tom looked for a reason every day why he’d been spared when his brothers and sisters – and even his own teammates, had not.
Between his girlfriend and his nightmares, something has to happen. He knows he needs help, but he served with heroes, damn it. He’s strong enough to handle it. Besides, he’s got Doc Carter, the medic that ran his S&R team. They still talk and Doc wants him to visit. He wants to help now that he’s gone from patching up bullet holes to mending shattered hopes and dreams as a therapist.
I want to go on… but I won’t. I’m not sure if I’ve hooked you or not, but things get a lot worse for Tom before a run in with a certain familiar grizzled veteran and his feisty daughter give Tom a chance to turn things around for himself. Carl and Tom have a few things in common, it turns out, and the US Marshal and his deputized daughter need his help in figuring out what happened to Tom’s brother in arms. Nuts, I went on a little anyhow.
Well, here’s the links and you’ve already seen the amazing cover of the book Willsin Rowe made for me. Now get out there and grab your copy!
The power of voting. No, this has nothing to do with the U.S. Government or Trump vs Clinton. This is about one person putting for the effort to voice their opinion. One person that cared enough to say what mattered and what they wanted. The reward for that one person is shift in direction. A change in effort and motivation. The creation of new systems, new lives, new technologies, and new ideas. In short, a new book.
Still waiting for a name to come to me, but until then let it be known that I am writing the next Vitalis book. Thank you, Kelly Davis Screen, for taking the time to respond when I put out the open question. It’s great to know there’s one person out there still reading.
So what’s the story and where does it fit in? Well, it falls in shortly after the end of Valkyries. I won’t share any spoilers, but I’m a solid three chapters in and loving the new characters and story line. The goal of this book is to help humanity unite itself against the approaching armada that is twenty years away. Humans have a history of banding together when tough times arise, and the approach of the Ultriarch is humanity’s greatest opportunity to put aside their differences and work together. The question they’re suffering isn’t a matter of culture, race, or gender, it’s whether they draw the line against those that have become affected and enhanced by the alien biology from Vitalis.
Will there be old characters? Sure, a few, but mostly this is about new characters and their stories. So far I’ve got Zack and Tessa, unlikely partners and criminals with their own needs and wants in life. Definitely not the sort of people anyone would expect to be asked to help a greater cause. Desperate times make strange bedfellows indeed.
I finished the rough draft of Medic – it took way too long to write, but I had a ridiculous end of the year. Over two weeks off but every single “vacation” day I took I spent working several hours for the day job. On top of that, I had a ton of basement work planned to finish off my basement. Most of that happened, except early on I ended up with a vicious infection in my chest from inhaling too much drywall dust. I’m still not sure what happened for several days while I worked through some epic amounts of hacking and wheezing. But, the end result is a semi-finished basement (waiting on having carpet installed a few weeks out and then I’ve got to find some bargain basement furniture). Oh, and like I said, I wrote the last word on Medic’s rough draft today.
So now I need some help! What do I write next? I’ve got an awesome fantasy character idea that I could turn into a Voidhawk book that also helps finish up my Serptent’s War trilogy, or I could write something in my Dark Universe or Vitalis series. I’m torn, to be honest. I could do any of them – but times are lean so I’d love to hear what my readers are most interested in.
So let me know what piques your interest! More tales of the Uma and her new captain and crew (Dark Universe), the Voidhawk trying to return a natural order to the void, or humanity struggling to adapt, survive, and prepare for the invasion coming from the Ultriarch flying through space to consume them?
I was studying my sales over the past year this weekend and trying to do it as analytically as possible (to fight off depression). That coincided with some formerly very successful writers that have experienced similar spirals. In fact, the more authors I speak with, the more it seems this is happening to everyone. Of course that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable or a good thing.
Anyhow, I also happened to notice my whiteboard with my 2016 goals on it. I’m on par for nearly everything I wrote down except for 4 Terminus books. I wrote 2 when I launched with John, but then the apathetic reaction the marketplace gave us told us both it was time to move on. Damn shame too, I absolutely loved the setting and wanted to do so much with it.
Kind of like my next ideas after I finish Medic. I have an awesome character concept and some story ideas that fit so perfectly into a fantasy book – but nobody who’s reading my books seems interested in another book set in Alto’s world. That ties me into my sales trends I’ve studied. People want to read science fiction, not fantasy – with the notable pseudo-exception of Voidhawk. Voidhawk is space fantasy, so it’s got the appeal of science fiction even though there’s not much in the way of science behind the magic that allows renaissance era vessels to sale between worlds.
Fortunately for me, my next Voidhawk book will return to the world of Kroth. My new character idea might very well have it’s time in the sun after all. I’ve got to narrow it done some more first, but I’m pleased with what I’ve come up with so far. That’s going to have to slip into the back of my mind for now though, I have to finish off Medic first, and I’m getting pretty close to doing that.
How close? Well, a few more chapters and I’ll be done. And as of Thursday of this week I’m on vacation until January 3rd. Plenty of time to write! When I’m not working on remodeling my basement, that is. Or doing Christmasy things.
The real question is, will Voidhawk be my next project, or will I return to Dark Universe or Vitalis instead? In case I haven’t made it obvious, Dark Universe, Vitalis, and Voidhawk have been my bestselling series this year, and in order to keep the cash flowing I have to write what people want to read. Since feedback and reviews are rare, I have to rely on how readers vote with their dollars, and that’s what the votes are telling me.
As a side note, Arrested in Peace, my recent release in the shared sci-fi universe of The Complex, has been doing fairly well also though. I highly encourage you to check it out and the other works in the same setting.
The only other thing I want to mention is that I’ve finally gotten around to converting Victim of Fate and Silver Dragon (books 2 and 3 in the Child of Fate series) to print books available on Amazon. Those are ready to go, although I am in the middle of updating Victim of Fate to deal with a formatting issue – that should be done in a matter of hours. Just in case you’re in the mood for a good old fashioned paperback.