It's time to look back on 2015 and take stock — what worked, what didn't, and where I spent my time.
I doubled 2014's word count (which isn't saying much), even though I spent 5 months working on something else. That put me on track for equaling my annual word count for 2012 and 2013, if I had written for the full year.
I wrote two more short stories for my eventual collection.
It's been a busy, busy year. Here are a few of the highlights, but before you read, go take a look at this announcement from Perkunas Press, so I can brag a little.
Baughman Hollow Farm
In the spring, I moved the contents of two houses and a warehouse from Virginia to Pennsylvania, into a cabin and a very big warehouse. That major disruption took over my life for quite some time, as I am daily reminded when I look at all the boxes in my office yet to be unpacked.
We purchased Baughman Hollow Farm decades ago, in a brief moment of fiscal responsibility, but it hasn't had any permanent inhabitants for over a decade, so we're still catching up on some of the basic maintenance tasks. It's a nice place, about 300 acres, mostly wooded, and full of deer, turkeys, and black bear. Local coyotes, porcupines, and barn owls have all come by to say hello. The cabin was built in 1812, with a modern addition for plumbing, utilities, and some more space. The farm occupies the top part of a hollow about a thousand feet up in the Allegheny Front, and the cabin, nicely sheltered just under the top of the plateau, has a view down to the western edge of the Appalachians across the Bald Eagle valley. The weather comes in from the west along the Allegheny Plateau and sweeps down over us from the back and then on down the hollow.
As some of you know, I moved from Virginia to Pennsylvania in May, just as I was finishing King of the May. We relocated to our vacation home in central Pennsylvania, an old log cabin (with improvements) nestled into a hollow of the Allegheny mountains.
No one had lived in the cabin for 10 years beyond a few relatives visiting during hunting season, so the place had to be emptied, cleaned, repaired, and painted. On the Virginia end, this included moving two different households to a single smaller location and a warehouse, so it was beyond complicated. I did my best to keep writing each day but the dust is still settling and will be for a while. (Half of my office is still in boxes.)
You may have noticed that King of the May is published by Perkunas Press, still in Hume, Virginia. It will take a little while for me to register the business in Pennsylvania, and after that new printings (and my bio) will show the update.
Meanwhile, I've started on Bound into the Blood, book 4 of The Hounds of Annwn. Since I include the first chapter of the next book at the end of the current one, I had to write the first chapter before I could publish King of the May. So I have a pretty good idea how this one is going to roll out.
It will be a more intimate book than King of the May, as The Ways of Winter was more intimate than To Carry the Horn. George will look for answers about his father's family, and the search will take him to strange places with unusual companions (Seething Magma will be coming along).
These four books of The Hounds of Annwn will cover most of a year, from mid-October to end of summer. Interestingly, they are coinciding with the same seasons in real life as I write them — helps me stay in the mood.
I'll produce some more short stories in The Hounds of Annwn world, and collect them into an anthology (sign up for my newsletter to hear about each new one as it comes out and read it for free on my blog), but after Bound into the Blood (sometime this fall/winter), I intend to begin a new fantasy series, The Affinities of Magic.
Depending on the wishes of my readers, there may be more adventures in store for George Talbot Traherne. Please let me know — I'm listening.
Just one year ago today I began writing fiction. I can't explain what took me so long to get started, but it wasn't until I stumbled across an interesting story idea that I found compelling that the bug finally bit.
It bit hard, though. In the last year I have written and published two books and three short stories in my fantasy series The Hounds of Annwn, and the third book is nearing the end. I've managed this “in my spare time” while working a regular job (lots of getting up early, seven days a week).
What does this mean? Total word count for the year is about 400,000 words. On the one hand, I find that almost impossible to believe. On the other, I have a very vivid understanding of just how much more I have to learn in my new profession, and I feel that I've barely scratched the surface.
The best part is getting feedback from readers who are enjoying the stories. Or not. The more I hear from you, the better I can make the books. Please don't be shy about comments or even reviews — I look forward to them.
Over the next year I plan to finish book three (King of the May) and possibly another volume, as well as several more short stories in the same world so that I can bring out a short story collection in print and ebook. I'll also begin a completely different fantasy series, The Affinities of Magic, about a world with an unusual biology, where all living things have magic in some form, and students of wizardry have much to learn.
As 2012 rolls on down to a close, I'm moved to reflect on what this year has been like.
I began writing fiction in April and have just published the second book in the Hounds of Annwn series. I can hardly believe it myself. I only wish I had taken the plunge sooner.
I resurrected an old business (Perkunas Press), built it a website, did a crash tour of thought leaders in the new world of independent publishing, and took the first steps toward professional writing.
270,000 words later, I feel like I'm just getting started. I've gotten my books listed in a few dozen online channels, but I've barely scratched the surface of distribution in libraries and independent bookstores. I've started a newsletter, but it's a long way to the famous “1000 fans” that make the foundation of a career — and I must earn them one at a time with the best writing I can produce, the best stories, the highest quality, and constant improvement. It's a challenge.
The feedback I've been getting from individuals and editorial reviews has been very encouraging, but I have almost no reader reviews in online retailers, and I need to concentrate on coaxing that from my readers.
I intend to put up two more books in 2013, more if I can. The next will be the third book in my first series. There's likely to be a fourth, maybe more, and I have a second fantasy series in mind, too. Since I like to end each book with the a sample of the first chapter from the next one, I've already had to start book three in order to complete book two. Soon I'll be able to stop shepherding the new release through the publication and review channels and return to the fun stuff: making up worlds and telling stories about the people in them.
My medium-range plan is to have ten full-length books out by the end of 2016, or more, in three series. Should be possible!