Few updates for now. I’ve been busy with what has quickly become the longest and most involved novel I’ve ever written (in this life or any other).
I’m working hard on creating the most polished, professional work I can manage. My last novel was very good, for a project that only took 9 months from the first page to the first edition, but I could have done better still if I’d taken another year to polish it.
This novel I’m working on now has a convoluted history. It’s loosely based on my first novel, a medieval fantasy story with some small, unfocused elements of mind-bending SF I began working on in 2003, finished in 2008, and published in 2013. It got a frosty reception because, to tell the truth, it wasn’t very good. It was a manuscript I’d been sitting on for some time by then in the vain hope I’d find a more mainstream publisher for it (DAW actually sent a personalized rejection letter, so they read my manuscript at least). I finally published it with the niche publisher that printed my first published work (the one about the airships I’ve mentioned in passing here) but by then it got a frosty reception.
I had intended to write a sequel from the very beginning (originally it was meant to be a trilogy but that idea was scrapped), and wrote one between 2010 and 2013, that focused harder on the SF element; however, after several successive drafts it didn’t quite get past the slush pile, and the slow sales of the first book sealed its fate. So last year, after about a year of nearly giving up on this project, I asked my publisher if they’d consider dropping that earlier book for a book that salvaged material from both but created a completely new story. They said they’d consider it if I could show them what I’ve got.
Very little of the original 2003-2008 manuscript survives in this new one. Most of the material is actually from the past year, and I’m holding my breath to see if I’ve successfully made a silk purse out of two sow’s ears. I’ve made up my mind that I’d rather do it right than rush it to press, and even though I’m getting close to a state I’m satisfied with it’s still taking forever. My anxiety over whether my voice will be unique enough, my prose will be polished enough, and my story will be engaging enough is only mitigated by directly engaging the text and constantly reminding myself of my progress.
I have the makings of a cult author. My last book was a watershed. Copies of it are selling for three times their original cost on the used book market in France. It rates a solid five stars on Goodreads and Amazon. It’s also the first of my books to be pirated. Sales of the first book I published have ticked up a bit too.
Once this next book is out, rather than spend my promotional budget on another trip to San Jose, I’m going to use that budget to send promo copies to any newspaper, magazine, or journal that will review it.
As for the general state of my life, I’ve been more vocal about politics in places where I’m usually not. I won’t deny that I’m worried I’ll lose some friends over this and it’s not my intention to flame anyone or start drama. Even so, I’m genuinely worried that we’re rapidly headed toward a future where people like me might be in real danger.
People will say “you can just leave the country,” but that’s not really an option for a penniless disabled pulp fiction writer. It’s already become clear that nobody’s going to step up and help me with that, either (those who would couldn’t, and those who could wouldn’t). Realistically, I’m stuck here in the gathering storm until and unless I can break out and make enough on my writing to be able to get somewhere like Germany or Sweden.
It won’t happen with this book, though. When I say I don’t expect my next book to be a breakout success, I’m not being defeatist, I’m simply stating the fact that you can’t reach the next floor from the bottom of the staircase without dealing with the steps in between. There’s a lot of steps between a brief honeymoon with a small group of readers spread out across the globe and actually making a living.