On December 1, 2021, my new novel Dragons of the Ashfall will be released from Dark Owl Publishing!
Orphans never have easy lives, but they’re especially brutal in the ashfall. Londinium grinds children down to nothing in its factories. Patty Rinkin, a rare grindery girl with a last name, just wants to survive. Then dragons arrive and make everything so much harder. Or will they give Patty the opportunity to fight back against the Gear that’s caused so much suffering?
This novel’s also book one in a series. How long is the series? Well, more than one book! We’ll have to see how sales go.
But this leads to my problem. Less than two months ago my debut novel, The Keeper of Tales, was released. It hasn’t been long at all! I’m very grateful that Dark Owl is once again trusting me. Two novels in less than a year? Not many authors can say that!
But… that first novel just came out. I should still be pushing that. And now I’ve got another one on the calendar. I’ve got a number of short stories I’m working on and submitting to various places (and yes a number being published in the next few months). I’m waiting for the edits from another novel to get back to me. I’ve got at least two more novels in the immediate future to work on. Plus I’ve got that novella on Vella to keep an eye on, and this week I’m meeting with another author to see about cowriting a project together.
And this is my problem. I’ve got so many writing projects going on! Oh, and writing isn’t the profession that pays the bills currently. I’m still very much a full-time pastor!
But this problem is such a blessing. I’m not writing just for me. I have places to put that writing. I’m creating worlds that other people get to visit. They can read the short stories in so many places. One novel is out, with another well on the way. Two years ago, I don’t think I could have imagined such opportunities that I have now.
With all these opportunities, I feel like I’ve walked into a massive grocery store with a billion choices for chips. I want to try them all, but I know I can’t do it all. Decision paralysis!
I’m complaining about good things, really. Just like anything else, I need to take it one day at a time. I do have a plan for moving forward. But even as I move forward, I need to look back.
At the end 2020, I set a goal to write two novels in 2021. As of yesterday, I’m halfway there. Now, to be clear, I finished the rough draft. That means I have at least one revision before getting it to my developmental editor/ wife, and then at least one revision after that based on her notes, and then a proofread after that. There’s no publishing contract or anything like that.
That said, the raw act of creation is finished. Now it’s time to refine.
I wrote an average of just over two thousand words a day over thirty-eight days. That’s a fair amount of words. I know authors that push out a lot more in a day, but I also know a number that create far fewer words. I’m pretty content with that output, particularly since it’s Lent.
See, I’m a pastor in my day job, and the time between Ash Wednesday (February 17 this year) and Easter (April 4 this year) are literally twice as busy as normal. I purposely decided to attempt writing the rough draft in Lent, figuring that if I could write a rough draft then, well, I could probably write a rough draft anytime!
Now, how did I do it? How could I write so much, create so much, in such a busy time?
My new story, “Dowser in a Dead Town,” appears in With Bone and Iron. We’re having a livestream where each author will introduce their stories and give brief readings from them. You can join us live or watch it archived here! We’ll get started at 4pm EST.
Basically, it means that I’m working hard. I’m a pastor, and we’re in Lent, the lead-up to Easter. My ministry load is literally double the normal amount. However, I’m pushing out an average of 2000 words a day. Some days are more, enough that I’ve been able to take a day off writing here and there and still keep up my writing average.
That’s the part I control. Yes, things come up, but by prioritizing writing, by taking it as a job, I can consistently write a fair amount.
But the other column there… that’s a lot harder. I don’t control that at all. I can market. I can provide a good product. I can write and write and write, but I cannot control who purchases my work.
And to be honest: I’m often not a prawn. That column fluctuates widely for me. Some months I’m lucky to be algae. The most I’ve ever been is a prawn. Maybe 2021 is the year I’ll make lobster, or even trout! For now, though, income from writing is inconsistent at best.
That chart is handy for me, personally. It gives me a goal to shoot for. But I want to tell you what it’s not:
It doesn’t mean you’re an author. It doesn’t mean you’re a “level 2 writer/barbarian.” It doesn’t validate you in any way. All it does is provide a handy way for you to judge you. The only person you’re competing against is you.
Today you’re a glass algae? Set a goal. By the end of 2021, you could be a quartz algae!
For me, I’m content in being copper. I’d like to be a more consistent prawn. Maybe I could be a brass prawn? Maybe once this lead-up to Easter is done. Maybe over the summer, when my ministry usually relaxes a bit, I could even be a steel prawn. That would be amazing!
I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: As you set goals, remember what you control and what you don’t control. My goals for 2021 were to have 20 short stories out for submission, and to have written 2 novels. My short story count fluctuates; right now, I’m at 15 stories out. I’m about halfway through the first novel of the year. That word count is important!
I also set a goal of being published 10 times in 2021, but I also knew I don’t control that. All I can do is control the quality and quantity of my output.
So today I’m a copper prawn. Tomorrow? My species and metal could change. So be it.
How about you? What are you made of? What sealife are you? And what goals have you set for yourself?