I'm reluctant to even mention it, but I've just passed my first million-word milestone. Why am I reluctant?
When I was writing my first novel, four years ago, I had no idea what to expect of the writing life. I was immensely gratified with the production of a book I wanted to read, and my fans have been kind enough to agree, picking up the whole series over time, novels and shorter works.
At that time, a million words seemed an impossible distance away. More experienced authors muttered things like, “The first million words are just a start,” and I couldn't believe them. How could that be?
But they were right. I'm most of the way through my seventh novel, with two more planned for the year, and I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what I need to learn to grow as a writer. I'm more humble now, but looking forward to the second million, and the third. This post is more of an homage to how I felt when I was getting started, than how I feel now.
BTW — How long does it take to write a million words of fiction? At my current rate of about 750 words/hour, that's more than 1300 hours, one word at a time. At 40 hours/week, that's only 33 weeks. Doesn't seem like that much, when you put it that way, does it?
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.