Tuesday, 25 December 2018

And peace to all

Happy festive season, Yule, Sol Invictus and Mithras day, and Christmas (and whichever "turning of the astronomical year" festivities you celebrate). Peace on earth, and blessings to all.

This is a last little retrospective before we head into 2019.

I started January with big intentions to write every day and wrap up a few books, I did a writing workshop, contacted a writer for coaching, and then February already sent it all down the drain when my partner got pretty ill for 2-3 weeks and that messed up my routine. I climbed back on top in March, only to surprisingly get back a whole host of books from a publisher that I never expected to see again (let alone take control of). And it was certainly pleasant to see karma at work for the righteous and unjust both. March and April saw quite a few balances restored, and it was just great to see that. In addition, I settled a rights issue with a co-writer, whereby she got full control over the books that were her original idea, and I got control over the books that were mine, and we ended up with a nice clean divorce after a couple false starts.

Getting back a total of 18 books or so in pretty much one go between March and June (when Carina also returned Dark Edge of Honor) meant a radical change in direction - instead of plugging away at my 500-1,000 words per day, I decided I wanted to re-read and re-edit the books I'd just got back; some of them had mistakes, typos, or style issues that I really wanted to get rid of and that had annoyed me in some cases for years. That's the great thing about self-publishing - if I find such an issue, I can just fix it and upload a new version and it goes online within hours. I love that part!

So, instead of writing, I edited. I edited a lot. I came home from a stressful editing job and sat down and edited some more. It was true "Wheel of Pain" stuff from Conan the Barbarian. Editing does require keeping the whole book in mind at the same time (I did find some inconsistencies), and for the historicals I cross-checked some facts that I just wanted to be sure about. I did most of the groundwork for the biggest of those projects, the Memory of Scorpions trilogy at ca 170,000 words, mostly on a veranda on Lanzarote, highlighting the bits that I needed to change and writing in the bits I was going to add or use instead - so most of the heavy lifting in books 1 and 2 were done in May, and I tackled the actual re-writes in November.

In addition, of course, I commissioned new covers for all those books, which were all done by the amazing Lady Tiferet, and sometimes on short order. That also meant replacing some of the "old" covers to stay within one style for the whole line.

In June, I noticed that my knees were hurting when I was climbing stairs. I'd reached my highest weight ever and decided that if I wanted to avoid blowing out joints and dealing with assorted health issues (my maternal family tends to acquire diabetes via overweight and alcohol abuse, so I've seen what could happen), something had to change, so I did. Over the next couple months, I a) did the research and b) hacked my thinking about food. I was able to do the latter largely thanks to my coaching skills. Consequently, I dropped more than 10kgs (more than 22 pounds), and my knees stopped that hurting business. I set "weightloss" as my personal ordeal, and it's ongoing (after a break for Christmas gingerbread and establishing a new "plateau").

I then got involved in the relaunch of Manifold Press, which, instead of closing, decided to just change the guard. My motivation here is largely to "give back to the community" - there are authors who want to publish with a publisher, and I believe they should have a "safe haven" in a landscape that can be quite scary and overwhelming for authors who "just want to write". Personally, I love my freedom, and I'm also friendly with a number of publishers, and happy to work with them, namely Manifold, Dreamspinner, and Less Than Three Press. Manifold's focus and strength in historical fiction does fill a gap in a market where historicals are often a) of poor quality, b) pure "wallpaper", or c) dismissed as financially unattractive. As a historian and a fellow historical writer, I want to support my historical writer peers and help maintain that "safe haven", and my relevant experience sure doesn't hurt.

Also in publishing, I'm glad to see that quite a few tremendous writers have made the jump to self-publishing, putting out their returned backlist and projects that had been rejected and encountering a lot of success. That was one of the lessons from attending EuroPrideCon in Amsterdam and UK Meet in June and September, which for me marked a kind of social "rebirth", after not really meeting anybody for a couple years. It's lovely to hear hard-working writers say that they make so much more money self-publishing than they used to make with their previous publisher/s - knowing that they have families to feed and used to work themselves to the bone to put out a lot of novels to maintain cash flow.

Sometimes, self-publishing makes all the difference - if you make twice the money, you can work 50% - ie write 2 books a year instead of 4 and still get the same money. Some authors were making three times the money. To support self-publishers, I kept moderating the GLBTQ self-publishers group on Facebook and finally got a co-moderator on board (as we hit more than 1,000 members). Also kept sharing knowledge outside of that and had a number of fantastic chats at both EPC and UK Meet - the standout was probably with Lynn West from Dreamspinner - we just vanished into a corner of the bar and talked for hours.

November saw things beginning to slow down again, so I managed to take some time out to help a German roleplaying firm with translating their grimdark fantasy rulebook; I translated something like 10,000 words of mainly technical rules text, and there's another 16,000 or so to do for this project. They were very happy and told me that my text reads better than the one translated by the "professional translator" they'd hired for the rest of it - so the combination of living abroad and being a writer certainly helped. I don't think I'll ever want to be a full-time translator (few people are willing to to pay what I have to charge for my time), but that was nice validation, and surprisingly easy. Certainly a change of tack after doing all that editing.

What else? The day job is going strong, but the mid-term goal is still very much to free up more time for writing again, so that's a quandary I still haven't resolved. Maybe it's just a matter of being more disciplined, forcing myself to put out words before I do anything else. I think I'll try that this year because quite frankly the perks are very good, and there are no similar full-time jobs out there at the moment, plus with a looming recession, even if I get an equivalent job, I'm not guaranteed to keep it when the layoffs roll around (as they will). At least my company has got its layoffs already out of the way in anticipation of the recession (and Brexit, but I'm not even going to start on that). In happy news, I sold the rights to quite a few books to Italian and French and Hungarian publishers.

So, in many ways, 2018 was me finding my feet again and establishing a firm base on which to stand. I explored some new things, dealt with some past stuff. What I didn't do was publish a new book (I did publish the audiobook of Witches of London - Lars, though, as well as the German edition of Gold Digger).

That's... the first year without new English-language releases in quite a while, and I can't say I like it. I'd have hoped the re-launch would have gone faster so I could have cleared the desk and work very seriously on new books, and maybe squeeze one out of the door before 2018 closes. But that didn't work out, I guess because even my day only has 24 hours, and I'm asleep or at work for quite a few of those.

So what's on the cards for 2019?

I'm actually writing (as my Patreon folks know). There are three books I have on the desk to get written and published as soon as possible.

1) Witches of London - Julian: That's about 36k in first draft so far, so I'd say I have 50% of the book. I've written myself into a place where I need to face a few demons, but I hope that with some distance, I'll get through that "dark night of the soul" moment pretty much unscathed. The book is, I think, a bit too close to my bones for comfort or to write freely, but I'll get through it. After all, it already has a cover and it's gorgeous, and I know people are waiting for it.

2) Paranormal historical novel: I'm tackling WWII from a "new" angle; I have 24k or so of this story and I'm barely out of the starting blocks, so this could be big (ie more than 100,000 words). It also feels very much like it's the beginning of a new "verse" - with the general idea that magick was "real" and was being used by all sides to further their own ends. This is taking a LOT of research, because of course I'm looking at occultism in real life history. But I'm also switching up some stuff about the world by introducing a second human species that has developed in parallel with (and interbred with) humans as we know them. It's great fun, but those two big variables - evolution and magick - make things quite complex. In addition, I'm not sure it's going to be a romance by any stretch - it might be just the world's grimmest buddy road movie with two characters who happen to be queer in their own ways. This is a bunny I've carried around since 2012 (when I told friends about it at GRL in Albuquerque), and which kept getting postponed by other, more romancy books, so it's time to put it on paper.

3) A tropey author romance:  This one is a fun project, and I'm covering some of my favourite tropes (enemies to lovers, second chance). It's meant for Dreamspinner because their open call inspired it. It's very much a light-hearted book that should be relatively easy compared to the others.

4) Misc: I want to focus on those three for 2019, and I'm not going to rush any of them, but I have a ton of other ideas and half-written projects that I want to get to. Last count, that list was in the region of 30-35, and some of those could be potentially big. Among the books I very much want to do are further Scorpion books, and Franco's story to wrap up Dark Soul. I also have a heavy rewrite in mind for Clean Slate and First Blood, and heavily re-write Counterpunch. The latter will be a much larger book as I'll combine it with the half-written Suckerpunch, but some major plot elements will need to be replaced, and I need to decide what kind of dystopian world I'll set it in - though frankly I'm kind of reluctant to write dystopian in the current climate, so it's not a huge priority right now.

There are other books - like the one about a whaler circa 1820s, and I've been giving that some thought, especially how to write it ("narrative stance"), but I think I got that one hacked now. There are some fragments and half-written books and full manuscripts that I'll likely cannibalise and re-work over the next couple years, but nothing is truly decided yet. I'm also very much in love with the whole 1700-1750 period of European history, so something might come from that, and I definitely have a crusader novel to write. A few people are also waiting for more Return on Investment, Gold Digger and Doctrine Wars books. Which is where we get back to the thought that I'd really like to cut my day job hours so I can write more books faster, but right now I'm doing the best I can.

Other stuff I want to achieve:

1) Weightloss: After the initial successes, I'll be shedding the remaining weight that's "extra" and stop once I feel completely fine in my skin in terms of weight. I'm not married to a number or specific shape - I'll know it when I get there.

2) Brexit-readiness: It's a real concern that the UK could "crash out" of the European Union, at which point I need to sort out my paperwork. This might mean anything from hiring an immigration lawyer to deal with the process, to selling up here and moving back to the continent and re-building my life. I spent quite a bit of time and energy on running a number of scenarios and have done a fair amount of self-coaching around the issue, and I'll be fine with the full range of outcomes - from "going on as usual" to "being deported in handcuffs".

3) Much depends on 2) there, so I'm not making very detailed plans, but there's a wish list. I'd like to establish more of a coaching practice. I'd like to write a book on writing and develop writing workshops to hold locally, or, heck, online. I'd like to increase my daily output to 500-1,000 words. I'd like to go back to LARPing - few things refresh the brain as much as checking out of reality for a long weekend or week. I'd like to travel more (Paris is on the cards for 2019), and cut my hours at the day job so I can write more. So yeah, re-establishing a sustainable writing routine will be top of the list here. Meanwhile, I want to launch my books in print, and get a few more audiobooks and translations launched. I'd also like to establish regular video chats with my readers and I'm looking at the best options for that (the idea is to be accessible to readers who can't travel all the way to Europe to meet me while I'm not attending cons in the US for time and money reasons).

And despite Brexit, I'm still looking forward to 2019. We are living in interesting times, but boy, it's informing so much of how I look at certain historical periods now. I feel the more alienated I'm getting from contemporary society and the rise of nationalists and fascists, the happier I'll be to be exclusively a non-contemporary author (ie focus on historicals and SF/F). That's certainly worth something. I'm quite happy to escape from all that. And that's going to be my main bit of self-care next year - spend less time following the news, learn to spend more time in the present, and work every day towards my long-term goals.

Hope you're having a great time "between the years" (as we say in German) and here's to a successful 2019 - whatever "success" may mean to you.

Friday, 7 December 2018

The last of the three (and the dozen or so)

This is the last cover for the new Memory of Scorpions edition. This is a pretty big moment - it's the last of the trilogy and the last of more than a dozen re-releases this year. I've focused all year on getting my backlist edited and re-released and re-covered and getting them all back out was basically my "big annual 2018 goal" and now it's done and there's so much relief. It's definitely taken away from my time for writing - there are only so many hours in the day - but all of these never versions feel like a really solid base for everything that'll come in the next year or two.

So, I'm now back to WRITING (if I remember how to do that - kidding!) and hopefully catch up on my 30+ strong list of works in progress and bunnies and all the other things.

I am working on three books that are in various stages (Julian, a historical road movie with magic, and a tropey book I was going to pitch to Dreamspinner), and I want to wrap all of them in 2019.

Thank you for your patience during the intermission. I'm most certainly back now. 

Sunday, 25 November 2018

The last three...

I'm just putting the finishing touches on the three Memory of Scorpions books, which I'll re-release on 23 December.

Here are the new covers:

I just love the "proper military fantasy" vibe of the new covers, and can't wait for what Tif comes up with for the third book! There are a few changes in this edition - the biggest change is that I've done away completely with Blood (the character and his whole subplot never worked), and I've developed some side characters a little more. Plus, Runner gets a little more screen time - including her betrothal. So I'm excited. 

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Relaunch almost done

I spent the past months working on re-launching my backlist. That meant re-reading and re-editing something like 15-20 books after spending the whole day editing for the day job, so that was slower than I wanted. I commissioned Tif to do the whole set of covers, and I don't think I've shown them here.

The good news is, after Unhinge the Universe re-releases at the end of this month, the only books I have to re-release are the edited Scorpion novels, and I'm already working on those; I already took a wallet of highlighters to them in May, and now it's time to get them completely ready and formatted  (including a map I've commissioned). 

And once all that is done, I'll switch back to writing - I haven't actually produced much new stuff in the past six months, so I think NanNoWriMo should be a great way to start. The timing is also good as I'll be travelling to Germany on Thursday, and come back about ten days later.

I definitely look forward to getting back into the groove.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Re-launch underway

Just a quick note that both Country Mouse and City Mouse are back out and available at all major ebook dealers.

And the Market Garden series is now also officially in re-launch: Quid Pro Quo and Take it Off are both out and will soon be joined by If It Flies and If It Fornicates (20 June), and Capture and Surrender and Payoff on 19 July.

Meanwhile, I'm working hard on two new books (one Witches of London and the other a very old passion project), and also editing and re-jigging the Scorpions trilogy.

The rule is usually - if I'm really quiet, I'm working. :)

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Market Garden re-launch and full set of new covers

So, ever getting back the last few Market Garden books, I've been busy working on re-editing them and getting rid of typos or changing some words to my preferred spelling. I'm also looking at minimising my most annoying stylistic tics, of which there are many and several variants.

But I'm happy to say that I'm track to re-release all books new and improved before the end of the year. The pre-orders are going up as fast as I can manage. And here are all the new Market Garden covers - all done by Tiferet.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

What I've learnt from 10 years in this industry

I haven't posted in a while, so...

*wipes off dust* *puts up some fresh flowers* *opens shutters*

Right, that's better. 2018 got a little bit busier and more distracting than I'd have liked. Job is still busy, then February was marred (and busy) due to my partner getting a really nasty bout of food poisoning, and March saw the biggest catfishing scandal yet as well as turbulence around a big publisher and a formerly influential person in the industry, plus announcements that other publishers are closing. Regular followers of this blog (or anybody following me on social media, really) know that one of my predictions every year since 2014 has been: We ain't seen nothing yet.

The good news is: I think we're largely through the big publisher shakeout. I expect 2-3 further deaths of publishers over the next 6-18 months, and I know one is in the works that's not yet common knowledge. So as publishers pop like soap bubbles, leaving nothing but a vaguely soapy smell and a few microdrops of liquid if they go nicely or a hell of a lot of authors stiffed out of their royalties if they don't go nicely, I see responses from authors that largely consist of: "WTF? BUT WHERE WHERE CAN WE TURN NOW?"

And that's a legit question, after the deaths of heavyweights Samhain Publishing, Torquere, Loose Id (imminent), and a host of small and medium ones. I made a list once and we've seen around 15 publishers close in the market since the KUkalypse punched the floor out of our industry.

Short answer: pull head from the sand, get organised, get back-up, get educated, get in control of your own career. I founded a GLBTQ self-publisher group on Facebook for that end. Feel free to join. It's a no-promo, moderated group for questions around self-publishing.

(Aside, has anybody else noticed how many former "big name" authors who would reliably publish a book or several a year mysteriously stopped in around 2015? Yeah, me too. Some have simply vanished - pop goes the soap bubble - others are still around on social media but seemingly not writing. I know a couple formerly very productive full-time authors with decent-sized royalty cheques who got a day job and vanished. I'm one of the authors who were previously aiming to go full-time and then saw the road before me washed away thanks for Kindle Unlimited and quickly U-turned, and thank gods I did.)

Long answer: The game has changed. It changed in mid-2014 thanks to Amazon tilting over the apple cart. Many players in the industry spent 2015, 2016 and sometimes even 2017 in denial, hoped for a return to the good old days and some have woken up to the fact that those days are over. We're heading straight for winter. The publisher deaths have most definitely shown that the industry isn't the same - neither are profit margins, or financial return on investment. There's a reason some publishers have been pushing hard into other language markets (German, French) and audiobooks - there's still a bit of money to be earned there, but it requires capital to get to those few pools of fresh water.

In my about 10 years in the industry, here's a few things I've learned, and they're really common sense.

1) Have a legal agreement in place with a co-writer, before you write a book. You might think that rights and money won't be a problem as you'll just signed up with a publisher and they'll handle royalties and money. Wrong. What if the publisher goes down, what if your "bestie author friend forever and ever" thing doesn't last and you're no longer friends, or even no longer talking? I've seen a lot of co-writer relationships go from "OMG LUV U 4EVAR" to icy silence, at times mutual legal threats. What if the book you write earns $10,000+? Will you still be friends when that kind of money comes in? How well do you really know that random person you met on the internet? Spend the money on a lawyer, it'll save you tears, anxiety, stress and possibly having to go to court. At the very, very least, put down in writing who owns what, who has what rights to which characters/plots, what happens in case of your (or their) death.

2) Don't catfish; don't lie about who you are: Our genre has a weakness for "pretty young gay/bi  male writers" - as the catfishing scandal with Santino Hassell has shown. And "Santino" wasn't the first or the last. I've seen a lot of catfish; they burst onto the scene, they have lots of sob stories, collect money for illnesses, disabilities, or whatever story they'll tell, and always have a catastrophe ready in time for their next book release. The nastier ones organise their fanbase into some kind of stormtroopers and attack dogs (there are quite a few authors that people don't DARE review negatively on Goodreads) and weaponise them. We have female authors who pretended to be gay men because "everybody did it", "that sells more books", "those were different times", and who had the balls to then attack female writers as writing "bad men", "bad gay sex" or "exploiting the gay/queer experience" - while doing the exact same thing. Catfish make the industry unsafe for actual queer people - such as trans* guys who'll inhabit the male role because it's authentic to them. Every catfish makes trans* people less safe, less accepted. I can't even begin to talk of the damage that Santino Hassell (and her catfish sisters) have done to transfolks I know. Don't do it. This is a genre where being a woman (or other) is perfectly acceptable. Women writers sell a hell of books. Don't make people unsafe for kicks and to maybe sell a couple more books. You'll be found out and burn everything you've built. "Santino" lost a dozen or so publishing contracts and all credibility, and that's a LOT of work she put into books (*playing the world's tiniest violin here*). She also royally screwed her co-writers (see point 1).

3) Have a pseudonym; don't share your personal information on the internet, or really with anybody: Almost related to 2). I've had close contact with readers, fellow authors, and a smattering know my "real name" (I'll argue that point, as my "real name" is the name give to me by others, and this name is the name I've chosen for myself). Based on how quickly relationships go sour, make sure nobody can weaponise the knowledge against you. There are stories of publishers referring to authors by their "real name" rather than their author name at conventions or in other public spaces, but even without that kind of shocking breach of privacy, use your pseudonym always. Get a PO box or similar if you need to receive mail. Don't give anybody personal information. There are stalkers out there who'll hunt you down in the real world for shits and giggles. I've heard too many stories of employers etc receiving "things you want to know about your employee" emails with screenshots etc. Being active in the industry is like sex - always play safe. Always have one layer of protection between you and the nasties. Get used to saying, "I'm $pseudonym", do not add, "but my real name is $real_name." In this industry, your pseudonym is your real name. Feel free to use your real first name if having a second name is too disturbing. Personally, I turn my head if anybody around me addresses an "Alex" even in a professional work context. This is my real name.

4) Don't make this your only gig (aka Don't Quit Your Day Job): I'm re-iterating what I said further up. I've seen authors quit their day jobs in 2012 and return to work in 2016. Some gave up teaching positions or jobs that are hard to get back into to chase the dream. Gods, dreams are powerful, and so are myths. Anybody who's ever taken a pen in hand to write a story has that dream of "quitting the day job" (raising my hand here). And some people hit that income threshold, whether it's $1,000/month, or $2,000 or $3,000. And there are some very rare cases who can make it work - having a spouse who makes a hell of a lot of cash, or standing to inherit a cool million from rich parents absolutely helps, as does the sustained ability to write a novel a month that people want to read, and by sustained I mean 5-35 years, because that's your job and you'll likely have to do it until old age hits (and I hope you paid into a pension during that time!). For Americans, make sure your healthcare is covered somehow, because being too ill to write can happen. In some cases, that's not an option. There are authors who are disabled, ill, carers and/or already retired. Everybody's circumstances are different. Sadly, I've seen authors who were doing rather well in the boom years of the early 2010s end up having to rely on Kickstarters and GoFundMes.

5) It's winter and we don't know whether there will be a spring (aka "patience, diligence, hard work"): Being a writer in the genre was pretty easy while it was growing. I knew a dozen people who were pulling in six figures a year. The genre has changed, there are more writers, more books being written, and I don't think the genre is growing anymore. Competition is hard. Being seen is difficult and can feel impossible. Staying productive as your income stagnates at a (low) level isn't easy. I know very talented writers who are just about breaking even - they can pay for covers and edits with their takings, but don't actually make any money. In that place, being a writer feels like having homework every day without ever graduating. There's never a prom ball where you're the king or queen of the ball. Plus the nasty high school cliques are out there and trying to get you. All of that is true and I still believe - almost against evidence - that people who put in their work, who keep writing, who keep learning, who keep at it will get "there" (wherever "there" is for you). We don't know whether things will ever change or get easy again. The only thing we can do is to put in the work and cultivate ourselves to the point where we show up and do it, and keep doing it, and remain patient. Patience, hard work and diligence can wear down mountains. Be more like Dashrath Majhi. Find your mountain and carve a road through it.

6) Look after yourself: The single most important resource you have is your ability to work, ie your own body and mind. I know authors with chronic pain, authors struggling with postural issues, and gods know I've always chosen "write another chapter" over "hitting the gym" when given the choice. The truth is, looking after yourself - nutrition, keeping your body in working order, hydration, and sleep, means you will be more productive in the long run. After I hit my forties I realised that I really need a full night's sleep to function at my mental peak. I've learned exercises to release the back pain I sometimes got from too much sitting. This year is also the year I'm starting to seriously tackle my weight. Does that mean I'll write less? Maybe in the short run. It's not worth to write more when you can't move or your body deteriorates while you force out yet another chapter. You're not just a machine that has to function in order to write. You're not just a typing machine. Keep yourself in the best possible condition so you'll be able to write for many more years.

7) A career is made up of many books: Some people think writing 1, 3 or 5 books will change their lives, thanks to the media which focuses on the "debut wonders". To be honest, the only thing that does change after book 1 is the sudden realisation of "I can actually write a book!", which, yeah, is magickal. Regarding making a life of it, try 10, 30, or 50. I have friends who've written 200 books. One more is no big deal. They show up for work, they give it their all, and once it's written, they write the next. Writing can be like breathing in that way. Once you start, it's just something you do. Write it, write it best you can, try to keep learning with each one. Write the next. Keep going.

8) All eggs in one basket = bad idea: Over and over, I've seen authors fall in love with publishers and give them all, or most, of their books. Then that publisher goes belly-up, and the same author might get stiffed out of five or six figures as the "bestie friend publisher" runs for the hills, taking the royalties with them (Silver was such a case). Even if the publisher releases the books, you might end up in a place where you get back 20-40 books in one go when the publisher closes shop. That might mean commissioning new covers, possible re-editing, doing layout, or trying to find a new house for them (spoiler: almost nobody publishes previously published stuff anymore, and the few houses that do will be flooded with the hundreds of books from that publisher that just went out of business). Doing all that is an almighty pain in the neck - plus expensive and time-consuming. Minimise that risk. And this doesn't apply to Amazon self-publishing - Amazon is a hell of a lot stronger and much, much more stable than any small niche press. But even then I'm personally against going Amazon exclusive.

9) There's almost nothing that a publisher can or will do that you can't do or hire in more cheaply: I've run the numbers backwards and forwards, and it's pretty clear from all calculations that you can produce and promote books more cheaply when you do it yourself. You can hire a cheap editor, you can get decent covers for a few dollars these days, and you can hire a promo company if you don't have time to deal with bloggers and reviewers yourself. Giving a publisher 60% of your income forever might look like a good deal in year one, and then gets a worse and worse deal as the years roll through. (Caveat, there are lots of publishers I like and I might work with them in the future, but I'm at least 95% a self-publisher now and can't even begin to express how much I prefer that.) If you need help, join us in the group on Facebook and we'll help.

10) Don't be "just a writer": I learned that the hard way, when writing was the only thing I did. I neglected friendships, fitness, health, relationships (etc, etc) to be able to write another chapter. When people ask me how I write so much, I tell them "I don't have a social life and I don't watch telly." That's actually no longer true. I have relationships and friendships and I take time out to cultivate them. Yes, many of those people are artists and writers but they're more than that. I like them as people. I now binge stuff on Netflix. I spend more time with my partner. I made space again for other interests, I recovered my spirituality, I'm acquiring skills I'm interested in. All of that takes time I could spend on "doing another chapter", but I get a lot more out of being a well-rounded human being than being a speedfreak flesh typewriter. True story.

11) Honour your team/your readers: Over those past 10 years, I've seen authors being utterly horrible to their readers, their editors, their cover artists. For some, that seems to be a method. I've seen authors play readers against readers by creating an "inner circle" and admitting and excluding people on a whim, at times even disclosing secrets (real names, HIV status), and generally stirring the pot, manipulating people emotionally and mentally and then gaslighting them when they get caught. Just don't. Treat your readers with respect, because readers are the difference between "writing for yourself" and publishing. Publishing requires readers. Cultivate gratitude for every single one of them. Credit your artists, credit your editors for their hard work that can be invisible. Give kudos where due, where possible. It takes a team to create a book, and whether that team came together because of a publisher or because you hired them doesn't matter. Be grateful, be humble, honour the work and investment and love and energy of others.

12) Love the work: Don't write to quit the day job (though having goals is great), don't write for the money. Cherish the act of writing, the power of creation, the "laughing at your own jokes" and "falling in love with people who don't exist". That in itself is the reward of the path. Make it about "doing", right now and here, and not about a lack (of money, time, fame). Just decide you are a writer and do the writing, and the "having" will follow - whatever the "having" is for you. 

Sunday, 14 January 2018

More books in German (Incursion & Gold Digger), and three more books

Late last year, I've launched Incursion - Gestaltwandler in German:

And pre-orders are live for Gold Digger - Goldgraeber, which should be out on 23 February 2018.

I'm also working on the German version of Risk Return (I have 20% of a raw translation), so that should happen in mid-2018. I'll be trying to do one more German book this year as well, because I've learned quite a bit a bout the process and it's getting easier as my brain remembers more German. The long-term goal is still to get all my books out in German (at least all the solo-written books and the books I ultimately control).

With Gold Digger - Goldgraeber proofed and uploaded, I'll now switch all of my attention to finishing Witches of London - Julian, which I have tentatively pencilled in for late April. 

I'm also attending some creative writing classes to see if I can refine my style/method (if I ever stop learning, I'm basically dead), and will give outlining a go (most books I write don't have an outline, though they seem useful).

After Julian, I'll work on the three following projects:

1 - a totally new project, currently only called "Secret Baby" (fear not, there won't be actual babies in the book!), which is a contemporary gay romance and a bit weird and cracky, but potentially quite charming. Featuring two artists who're very different.

2 - Dark Heart, which is Franco Spadaro's novel, of which I have about 15k words, and then Franco stopped talking to me (one of those annoying things he does). In this book, though, Franco's worst fear will happen - people will think he's a "hero". Muahaha.

3 - A new genre with a set of queer main characters, and the genre is best described as "Wyrd War II", so we have an alternative universe paranormal historical. The main question I need to decide is whether one of the two main characters is an orc or a human. Also, I'm already sorry for destroying pretty much all of North America. I wear, it's nothing personal - it's just a super interesting premise.

Which one would YOU prefer to see first?