Art by D’Achille

Well, summertime rolls again…

Since I teach school during the rest of the year, each summer I have to decide what my writing focus will be : A new novel or a new batch of short stories. Last year I cranked out a whole new cycle of short stories called The Magtone Saga–six standalone stories that build to a single climax. Altogether the Magtone Saga is about 50,000 words (about 10K short of being as long as a short novel). Two of those stories appeared in WEIRDBOOK (issues #37 and #39), and the remaining stories were scheduled for the next four consecutive issues. However, the magazine went on hiatus for awhile and the last four Magtone Tales have yet to see publication.

Art by John Bierley

Latest news from WB indicates that the delayed Magtone stories will appear in WEIRDBOOK #43-46. However, there is no publication date set for any of those issues, so it’s anyone’s guess as to when they will be released. WB #40 finally came out about a month ago, but there is no release date for #41 yet. So, assuming that WEIRDBOOK doesn’t go out of business and quit publishing altogether, the rest of the Magtone Saga should eventually see publication. WB was releasing four issues a year, but that seems to have reduced to one or two at this point. Fingers are crossed that the mag will return to quarterly status–but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

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This summer I’m back to writing novels. Working on an epic fantasy with a crime-noir flavor. There’s far more to it than that, but I’m only four chapters into it so far. As I approach the tender age of 50, I’m starting to realize that I don’t/can’t write novels as fast as I used to. In the past I’d start slow and build an incredible momentum. That’s how it worked with the Shaper Trilogy and the Tall Eagle series.

This new book is coming to me in a slower and hopefully deeper fashion.  It’s impossible for an author to objectively rate his own creations, but once again I feel like I’m doing the best work of my career. Yet that’s how I usually feel when I’m working on a new novel project. That feeling drives me as a creator to finish my creation–yet it has no effect at all on the success of the novel commercially. Sometimes what you think is your best work others find lacking. Sometimes the reverse is true. Publishing is a strange game, and you have to take “time” out of the equation.

Art by Stephen Fabian

My approach with this new novel is “This will take as long as it takes–and I will not rush it.” It’s the same guideline I used with my first novel (SEVEN PRINCES), but I haven’t approached novels like that since. There’s no deadline looming over my head, there’s no schedule I have to keep, there’s only my vision and my ongoing attempt to bring it to life on the page. Publishing has always moved at a glacial pace anyway, and that’s not about to change anytime soon.

Deadlines are good for keeping your nose to the grindstone. But writing without deadlines means you can sit back and develop ideas at their own pace–at and away from the keyboard. Thinking is the first step to writing, and without deadlines you can put in more thought to every aspect of your story. Taking time out of the equation is a blessing. The trick is to just keep moving, chapter by chapter. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but you have to keep taking steps or you go nowhere. I’m walking at my own pace, but I’m moving forward.

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Also started reading the great Frank Herbert’s fifth book, HERETICS OF DUNE. It’s the sequel to GOD EMPEROR OF DUNE, which totally blew my mind when I read it a few years ago. I need long breaks between Herbert novels–they are usually immersive and mind-boggling experiences in the best way. Not sure if HERETICS will rise to the same level of brilliance as GOD EMPEROR, but I look forward to finding out. I think it might be time for a massive re-watch of the 2000 DUNE adaptation starring Alec Newman and William Hurt. It’s the best adaptation of Herbert’s creation so far (all due respect to the great David Lynch, who wasn’t allowed to fulfill his creative vision on the problematic 1984 DUNE film).

So that’s where I’m at this summer. Trying to enjoy my vacation, write my new novel, and retain my sanity.

Life in the American Dark Age continues….