Reaper's Flight is speeding its way through final edits - it's been much quicker and more painless than book 1, and I'll confess to a bit of mixed feelings on that. But, really, I think the majority of my trepidation comes not from the questions of "is it ready to release?" but more a renewal of my inner monologue and introspective curiosity of an undefined path.
I was introduced to the idea of "the road less travelled" at an early and impressionable age, and over the years I've added to that concept the counterpoint of "sometimes the roads are less travelled for good reason". And yet, here I am, continuing to embark upon an author's path that - at least in recent years - is counter to the established.
Just like in my earlier flirtations with music production, I see a pretty impressively endowed Industry, casting a tremendous shadow upon me and others like me. Authors who do not believe that one must be signed to the great and all powerful Oz, and that he's really just a little guy sitting behind his curtain pulling levers and hoping we don't look too closely at him. We are told - on professional websites, at writer's conventions and the like, that the individual does not succeed. We are given countless and often contradictory advice on how to write submission letters, how to try and seem marketable to a literary agent, and... well, the advice goes on and on.
I won't lie; a publishing contract - oh, yes, and certainly a tidy sum of cash - wouldn't send me into a spiralling depression. A bit of industry validation is always a good thing, and it would definitely broaden my audience. It would make future literary ventures also possible, and to be honest, the more financial and marketing elements of publishing tend to feel more like distractions from the act of creation. And I'm not even all that much of a purist!
I've submitted to a few agents who seemed in the proper market, but the ones accepting unsolicited queries rarely seem to have a lot of books published I've even heard of. It makes sense that the ones who publish the most wouldn't necessarily need to post out for the thousands of unpublished authors who would happily ship out their life's work to them for even the fleeting glimmer of hope that they'll get picked up. The polite declines I've received have never gotten me down, either. That was a pleasant surprise. I suppose, unlike the more intimately personal music, I'm just not so tender about my books. At least, I think that's part of it.
Added to that is the inexplicable reassurance that my books aren't half bad. I enjoy the stories they tell and on the levels they tell them. The idea of being signed or picked up by a publishing house rather feels like a secondary aspiration - I'm not writing to be published, I'm writing to put my tales on paper.
Speaking of which, I've got the next few projects laid out - - I've taken a week to pause and gather my sense of direction - - a short novella will be released in the early spring to present the background of one of the main characters of the current series of books; more on that after Reaper's Flight is available. The final book in the present trilogy should be out around this time next year, earlier if possible. Two anthologies of short stories about the world introduced in this "Aerthos Trilogy" is in consideration, as is another possible series focusing on Favo Carr, one of the more scoundrelly of the secondary characters. He's fast becoming one of my favorites, and I just can't tell more of his story now without hijacking the main plot. But I'll get to him soon enough, don't you fret.
I'm also looking into developing out some of the cross-marketing ideas for the books as well. Tarot Cards, stuffed animals, that sort of thing. I'm working with an artist friend of mine (he did the editing for "The Morrow Stone" and produced an amazing cover for HL Reasby's "Akhet") to do the covers for all three of the Aerthos books, but I can see more possibilities for the material, as well. So, see? I have the occasional marketable braincell as well.
I've also already figured out the setting for my next books - it'll be a bit darker, a bit more R to the current PG of the Aerthos books. Additionally, I want to put some more meat onto the bones of my children's story anthology. It has about 5 stories so far; I'd like to have 25-30 when it's time to actually publish it.
The time travel and zombie books are on the back burner for now. I don't have the time to put anything down on either one, and by the time I got around to them, I just don't expect there to be much interest for the themes. Additionally, my sci fi screenplay has been shelved, as has my "Pilot" book. Back into the vault, you two. I'll have to get to them later; just no time in the present. Ditto for my "Union Jack" treatment.
Now that I look at it, am I ever going to be caught up? I suppose, to be fair, it's better than the alternative, no? Okay, I've rambled long enough. I have a book I should be editing now. Plus, Hurricane Earl is bothering some friends of mine in Puerto Rico. Looks like there's a lot of storms on our horizons. Time to hunker down and prepare.