Pulps are Back!

Someday this summer, Amazon will unveil Vella, a new method of reading Amazon stories. Readers can read the first three episodes of any story for free, and then pay per episode after. Each episode is designed to be a short bite of each story, between 500 and 5000 words. That breaks down to between a page and ten pages per episode, roughly.

I’ve decided to put a few stories on there that will be available when Vella goes live for readers. (Current rumor is that Vella will be promoted on Prime Day, on June 21, but that’s only a rumor.)

What kind of stories await?

Well, I figured that old pulp was basically designed for this kind of storytelling, so I followed that route.

First, we have Doc Passion and the Floating City. Doc’s experiment went wild and destroyed his orbiting space station… again. But when he and his assistant Brunt are rescued by a mysterious utopia floating on the edge of space, they know there’s something more going on! Join the adventure as the Doc, passionate for science, and Brunt, his long-suffering assistant, discover the terrible secret of the floating city and topple its nefarious master!

Then I’m co-writing an entry with my friend Nathaniel J. Peters titled Dinos of the Old West. Cowboys and carnosaurs. Stetsons and stegosaurs. Deputies and dinosaurs. That’s right, folks. What would make the wild west wilder? Dinosaurs. Follow the Sheriff of Golconda as he deals with raptor gangs, triceratops thieves, and a galloping gallimimus or two. Welcome to a Wilder Wild West.

Doc Passion is already complete at 14 episodes. It’s a wild science fiction ride with as many crazy ideas as I could pack into it.

Dinos of the Old West will be a continuing story organized into seasons. It’s sitting at 11 episodes at the moment, though that’s only a quarter of the way through the first season.

And this is one of the benefits of Vella. It’s designed for continuing stories. Nathaniel and I have plotted out the first season and have some solid ideas of what happens in season 2. Our plan is to have those 11 episodes up at Vella’s launch, and then put up an additional episode every week. That posting schedule may well change, depending how many people are reading and our personal schedules, of course.

And that’s also one of the benefits of writing in a pulp style. Those stories were intended to be read over the course of several months, with the action pulling readers along. Many of the stories hinged on over-the-top action and boundless creativity. I’m hoping these stories match that spirit.

Whenever Vella goes live, I’ll be letting you know here and posting links to the stories. If the format sounds good to you, make sure you check it out!

Publish? Perish?

The Keeper of Tales came out over three months ago now. I’m pretty proud of it. But something interesting has happened… sales have dropped off. It’s not getting all that much attention, as far as I can tell.

Now that’s not uncommon in the least. Most books make their best sales within the first month of release, and then they sort of piddle out. There’s a reason “publish or perish” is a saying. Course, I usually hear that in relation to college professors, but it applies just as equally to authors.

With every publication, authors get eyes on their words again. And if someone likes what they read, well, they might just check out that author’s backlist. I know I’ve done it before. When I first discovered Neal Shusterman, I started looking for other books he wrote. Same thing with Robert B. Parker. And Peter David. And… well, you get the idea.

In professional writing, generally the more you publish, the more each book makes as readers start searching up that backlist.

What that means practically for me is that if I want to make more sales of The Keeper of Tales, I need to get another novel out there!

Continue reading “Publish? Perish?”

I Lost My Pants

I had no idea where the novel was going. When I wrote the rough draft of The Keeper of Tales, I really had no idea what was going on. Who were the characters? What was this world? When I began, all I had was a feeling I wanted to replicate. I wanted the story to begin where I felt Return of the King ended—not the plot, but the emotions.

I introduced new characters haphazardly. I discovered the nuts and bolts of the world as I wrote. After that first draft, my wife read the words. Then we did the world-building to weave into the first revision. As we wrote the backstories for the main characters, I had an epiphany. “Lazul’s wife is dead!”

My wife looked at me like I was an idiot. “Of course she is!”

Because I had made it up as I went along, I really had no idea who most of the characters really were. Apparently my wife had a better grip of that than I did!

This process of writing is called pantsing. In other words, I made it up by the seat of my pants.

Continue reading “I Lost My Pants”

I Have a Problem

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.

So, hey, if you enjoy my writing, check out my Published Works tab. And purchase Keeper of Tales. A lot of people seem to really like it!

And if you really like my writing, another novel is coming!

Copper Prawn!

I’m a copper prawn!

All right. Here. Let this chart explain it:

What does this mean?

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?