My friend and fellow fantasy author (and now collaborator) Joshua Unruh asked me to write about my next project as part of a chain blog. He spent a lot of his own post talking about writing in my world, so it would be rude for me to ignore his request. But, then, I’ve struggled so much with my “next project” that this has felt like a really difficult post to write.
The thing is…long before Josh tagged me, I already knew that this was the post I needed to write. And it’s been difficult that whole time. That’s why I haven’t said a word here for two months now (and why that last word was some nonsense about cookies).
Here’s the thing: One year ago, I quit my day job to be a full-time writer. I spent five months completing my masters degree and capping off an epic fantasy series that I’ve been working on since I was a teenager. Every bit of that was a dream come true.
Then I published The Dragonprince’s Heir, and in the time since then I have wanted to do anything but write.
Those words are painful to say. It’s especially painful to share with you, my strongest supporters.
There are a lot of reasons. There was a vocal negative reaction to The Dragonprince’s Heir, but that’s probably the smallest reason of them all. I’m used to criticism, and I’m not under the impression that anything I write right now is pure gold. I’m still learning, still developing as an artist, so the books I’m writing now are just stepping stones to the really good stuff I’m going to work on next year.
I believe that now, and I hope to keep believing it with every passing year until I run out of them entirely.
No, most of what’s getting in my way is stress and obligation. See, I didn’t just quit my job last year. I also started an indie publishing company and hired a couple editors and a marketing guy. You probably know them all by name. They’re all fellow authors and good friends of mine, and it was our plan to put together a flood of awesome fantasy for you guys that would leave you begging for even more (and, in the process, fund Consortium Books to hire and train even more authors).
It…didn’t quite work out that way. We got a good start with the release of Courtney’s epic fantasy Rethana’s Surrender and Joshua’s noir viking saga Downfall, but the weak point in our plan was me.
I had boring day-job work to do. Not for my old government bosses, this time, but for my own organization. There was so much work to do, and now several families’ livelihoods depending (at least partially) on my business acumen. That’s a lot of pressure (and not a small amount of tedious paperwork).
On top of that, for lots of very good reasons, I signed a three-book publishing deal with Amazon’s 47North. I owed them the first novel in a new trilogy on November 1, but when I started hiring people in June and planning our schedule, November looked a long way off. As it turned out, I just had time to deal with the first, most urgent mountain of corporate paperwork before I had to dive into the 47North project with a desperate urgency just to hit my deadline.
And, of course, after I turned that in I found myself facing a new mountain of chores that had piled up while I was frantically writing. And then, when I realized they still needed me for consulting on promotional materials and reviewing edits and revising the manuscript, I discovered there was still a surprising amount of work to do on the novel I’d just delivered.
Somewhere in there I had a root canal, watched dad campaign for and then unfairly lose a bid for State Representative, caught pneumonia for six weeks or so, and survived two major holidays with all the family commitments those entail.
That’s how I’ve spent my dream-come-true so far: exhausted, overwhelmed, and behind schedule.
So! The challenge for this blog post was to tell you about my current writing project. The sad fact is, it’s the same one I blogged about last July (and promised by the end of summer). I’m working on a novella set in the world of the Dragonprince, featuring Daven and taking place immediately after the events of The Dragonswarm. Six months now, and I’ve got a little over 6,000 words written.
I’m actually really excited about the story. It’s Daven in all his power fighting a vicious (and frighteningly clever) dragon brood out in the eastern plains. It’s full of exciting action and tense drama and some surprising revelations with regard to the dragon bond.
It also sets the stage for the collaborative novellas Joshua was talking about in his post. A Darkness in the East is the first chapter in a five-piece collection called The Dragonprince’s Arrows. Among them, those stories will reveal how Daven came to have an army of dragonriders behind him and introduce some of the more interesting riders.
Unlike the one I’m still working on, those stories are already written. Or…drafted, anyway. Joshua and Jessie agreed to collaborate with me on them, so I’ll get to introduce you to Joshua’s break-neck plot and Jessie’s endearing characters, all wrapped up in the huge and fascinating setting that is Daven’s dragonswarm.
In other words, the next big thing is huge. It’s awesome, and I can’t wait to share it with you. I just have to get over myself first, get out of my own way, and learn how to write for fun again.
Wish me luck. I’ll let you know the moment the story’s done.