On Time, Writing, and Conventions

On Time, Writing, and Conventions

This week, my calendar alerted me that it was time to volunteer as a pro and panelist for the late-2019/2020 convention season. However, this year, I dismissed those warnings.

While I love attending my local conventions, I feel like right now I could make better use of that time to work on the myriad of books I’ve written that are currently in various states of completion. Gleam Upon the Waves is very close to being sent to beta readers. Coal Belly is still in revisions before I shop it around. My secret fantasy standalone languishes, and while it’s technically finished—it still needs some attention.

Conventions are a blast, but I take being a panelist seriously. I want to provide a quality product, and that extends to sitting behind the panelist table. Attendees deserve it—we’ve all sat in on an ill-prepared panel, and it’s a frustrating experience. I don’t like wasting people’s time like that. To do it properly means prep work, and prep work takes time. Time I should be spending writing and editing.

It’s possible you’ll find me attending a convention as a fan and if/when that happens I’m sure I’ll announce it here. I love talking to my readers, seeing my fellow fans, hanging out with friends, and meeting all the authors I admire. I know I won’t be able to stay away forever.

If I leave you with anything, it is this request: you should volunteer. It takes little time to apply, and the worst they can do is say no. Conventions want experts and enthusiasts to share their knowledge and opinions, and it’s a wonderful experience. Reach out to their programming departments—you’ll be surprised how eager they are for new people. Fresh faces sitting behind the panelist table can encourage, enrich, and inspire. You could be a part of that.

As for me, I’m going to focus on getting new stuff out there. It’s been way too long.

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The State of the Cycle

The State of the Cycle

If you’re reading this on the blog, you’ll notice that snow has started falling. That means it’s December, the last month of the year. As is the tradition around here, this month tends to be a reflection on the past year. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share the novels I’ve read, I’ll wrap up the Friday Link Packs (more on that later), and we’ll pass from 2015 to 2016 and move into the heart of winter here in the Pacific Northwest.

A few weeks back, after I was dealing with some serious creative malaise, my wife suggested me to read the book Art and Fear. It’s an excellent little book, and if you’re a creator, especially one struggling with your work, I urge you to read it. I wrote a post about it here. It’s poignant and encouraging, and it lifted my spirits. Some of the things it said gave me pause and those moments of reflections have lead to some decisions. So, I present to you The State of the Cycle, a look at the future of The Bell Forging Cycle, where things stand, where we’re going, and what other projects I’m working on.

1.) Where Do Things Stand?

Red Litten World is out, which means the series is currently a trilogy. After some hiccups in the initial print run and some other issues, I am pleased with where things are at currently. (Not that both didn’t come with obnoxious amounts of stress.) Some great reviews rolling in on both Amazon and Goodreads and it seems everyone is enjoying being back in Lovat, which makes me pretty dang happy.

To date, I have sold several thousand copies from the series and continue to see people starting their journey with Waldo Emerson Bell and his crew. A lot of that is thanks to you, my readers. Your reviews help. You blog posts help. Your fan art helps. Your general encouragement helps. All of it goes a long way towards getting others interest in the series. Thank you so much, and please keep it up. I can shout this from the mountaintop all I want, but it’s readers who influence other readers.

I have a few people email me about this, and I know a few people thought this series would be wrapped up in a trilogy, but that was never the plan. The Bell Forging Cycle was always intended to be a hexology. There are at least three more books to write in Waldo’s tale, and things are going to get turbulent before we finish.

I should also mention; there are now a lot of interesting little tidbits scattered around the internet these days. Stuff that reveals more and offers glimpses into other aspects of the world of the Territories. If you’re so inclined, poke around, share what you find, secrets await for those willing to search.

2.) When Is the Next Bell Forging Cycle Novel Coming?

That is the question I get asked the most. (Usually, after someone finished the latest book.) The honest answer is: I am not sure, but probably not in 2016.

I realize that’s not the most precise of answers, and please don’t think I am going to Geroge R. R. Martin you, you’re not going to have to wait eleven years between novels. I want to do this right, and I am adjusting my production to allow that. I am going to take time and refine my process. I’m also hunkering down on two other projects before I dive into book four. There is the possibility of a Bell Forging Cycle novella next year, but I’d much rather release it properly than rush it to the market and have it be something unsatisfying.

3.) Okay, What Are These Other Projects?

I’m mentioned both of them before, and I am still hard at work on each. In the past, I started talking about books way before they were ready. I’m trying hard not to do that again, so pardon the vagueness.


This is a standalone non-traditional fantasy and I playing my cards close for now. I might reveal the name, continuing to referring to it as my “standalone non-traditional fantasy” is getting tiresome. The manuscript is complete. I am revising it; it ended up being a much bigger project than I expected. Needless to say, I am excited about it’s prospects, and if you like weird fantasy novels you’ll, probably really enjoy this.

I’d love to see this released in 2016, but I am considering taking this manuscript and pursuing traditional publishing, and that could slow things down. We’ll see how that goes.


It’s called Coal Belly, a manuscript I have written, rewritten, tried to shop, and then eventually scrapped in favor of working on The Stars Were Right. It’s not uncommon for me. I’ve done it before. (I have many finished and half-finished manuscripts behind me) But, unlike the other dead manuscripts, this one haunted me. I love its characters; I love its strange world and its odd magic. I want to tell its story.

All that said, the former manuscript was old, and in the last five years I have matured a lot in my writing. So, recently, I decided the best way to tell this story was to strip it down to its bones and rewrite it.

If you like swashbuckling action, riverboats, political intrigue, civil war, and magic, then this will be a story for you. As of right now, there are no plans for a release date.

4.) Wait, Backup a Sec, What’s This Novella?

Ah, good question. It’s told from Wensem’s perspective and takes place during the events of Red Litten World. I won’t say more on here since I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t read book three. The events in RLW were the perfect catalyst for this story. It’s in the tracker on the right, and I’m enjoying expanding the world of the Bell Forging Cycle in a new direction. If you’re a fan, I think you’ll enjoy this.

5.) So, 2016 Plans?

Right now: writings and cons and writings and cons and over and over and over. I’m still sorting out my travel schedule, but I will be attending NorWesCon in the spring, and I’m also hoping to expand into Portland a few times as well as head over to the Spokane area. I had some great experiences in both locations last year. As always I will be making announcements here as that happens.

As I mentioned above, if time allows I would love to release my new standalone non-traditional fantasy novel, but I’m focused on taking my time with it. So it’ll be finished when it is finished. So far, that’s my 2016 plans.

So, there is the State of the Cycle, 2015. It’s likely that next year is going to be an exciting year for me, and I hope you’ll continue to follow along. As always I will keep updating I Make Stories and my project tracker as I move forward. I have quite a few more Wild Territories to write, and some other exciting stuff is coming as well.

If you want detailed info ahead of time, make sure to sign up for my newsletter. Subscribers get news on releases before anyone else. I don’t send many, maybe four or five a year. Sign up today →

Camp NaNoWriMo 2015

Camp NaNoWriMo Kicks Off Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the beginning of the summer session of National Novel Writing Month: Camp NaNoWriMo! If you’re new to writing or just want to try out the lifestyle, I highly encourage you to attempt a NaNoWriMo at least once. It’s a fascinating experience. It’ll help you discover your creative process and understand how you work as a writer.

Since the kickoff is tomorrow, I figured it’d be helpful to share some of my previous NaNoWriMo posts with everyone. Hopefully, you can glean something useful from my advice.

  • NaNoWriMo Is Here
    I offer a few simple steps to getting your writing project complete, from spending time researching, to actully writing those 1700 words a day, to getting involved in the NaNoWriMo community.
  • NaNoWriMo Cometh – Four Early Tips To Enhance Your Novel Writing
    While most of these require some preparation ahead of time, I find that these four tips are very helpful in aiding any author. I have four every single one of these critical to my own success.

and when you’re done…

  • NaNoWriMo Is Over, Now What?
    Save this one until August 1st. I break down some thoughts on where you can take that freshly finished manuscript.

Oh, since you’re starting out, do yourself a favor and watch this video. It’s still the best (and most encouraging) little videos for anyone starting something new. (It’s also a bit NSFW, so consider yourself warned.)

Good luck campers! Have fun, we’ll all be here on the other side ready and excited to read your finished masterpieces.

The Stars Were Right on Wattpad

Read The First Four Chapters Of The Stars Were Right For FREE On Wattpad

When it comes to my books I like ubiquity. If a reader is interested in reading my stories then I want to make that as easy as possible. With that in mind, I decided to delve into the world of Wattpad, a place for writers to share their stories online and in serialized chunks. You can read through the site or via their app (iOS/Android), comment on sections, share with your friends, and have a direct dialog with the writer. Seems like a cool platform.

I’m not quite sure if there is much crossover between my audience and the typical Wattpad audience, but we can find out. I have released the first four chapters of The Stars Were Right on Wattpad for free. If enthusiasm builds around these chapters I’ll slowly release more over the next coming months. I’m excited to see how this goes. This could be a fun way to get my stories into the hands of new readers. You can START READING HERE →

Let me know what you think! I’d love to know if this is something people enjoy. If you’d rather read a physical copy of The Stars Were Right it is available as a trade paperback and lately sells for under $14. Get your copy from any of these stores:

Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Direct

Friday Link Pack 02/27/2015

It’s Friday! That means it’s time to share a few links I’ve found over the last few days. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Away we gooooo…


Publishers Bypass Literary Agents To Discover Bestseller Talent
With the market currently in flux this isn’t really all that surprising. Just make sure to get a good contract lawyer.

10 Famous Writers’ Houses Worth Visiting
Planning a trip? Mental Floss assembles a top ten list of former abodes of classic authors, from Hemingway’s, to Dickenson’s, to Twain’s. Is it just me or did all these folks have huge houses?

Best-Sellers Initially Rejected
Rejection is apart of every writer’s life, and I mean every writer. Check out this list of enormous hits that were rejected by publishers.

Upcoming Appearances
This week I launched a new section on the site. Interested in meeting me? Want to pick up a signed copy from me directly? Under the “Appearances” tab you’ll find a handy list of the future conventions, readings, and appearances that I’ll be making.


This Norwegian firm specializes in the portrayal of “unbuilt architecture” through a technique they call “natural visualisation.” Simply stunning.


Five Things I Didn’t Get About Making Video Games (Until I Did It)
Before he got into the industry, Anthony Burch was a reviewer of video games. In this article he explains the separation that exists between reviews and actually development. While this piece focuses on games, this article could be written for any creative endeavor. As consumers it’s easy to forget how much time, blood, sweat, and tears go into something creative from games to art to books to music. It’s hard work, even if you hate it.

Why I’m Volunteering to Die on Mars
Fascinating piece from Sonia Van Meter, one of the Mars One 100, about leaving earth and going to live on Mars… permanently.

Yoga Fhtagn
So you’re a newly minted health goth looking for a fresh Lovecraftian take on yoga? Well, look no further, YouTuber Laurie Penny has you covered.

Earth’s Other ‘Moon’ And Its Crazy Orbit
Did you know Earth had another smaller (and drunker) moon? Well it does!

Random Wikipedia Article of the Week:

Wherein I got to Wikipedia and hit Random Article until I find something good/weird/offensive/hilarious/interesting/etc. This weeks entry:

Aerocar International’s Aerocar (often called the Taylor Aerocar) was an American roadable aircraft, designed and built by Moulton Taylor in Longview, Washington, in 1949. Although six examples were built, the Aerocar never entered production.

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Disinterment
Things aren’t always what they seem…

Gif of the Week:

Me, everyday.

Friday Link Pack 12-12-2014

Friiiiday! It’s time to share a few links I’ve found over the last few days. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Let me know! All right, let’s get to it.


Turning Your Manuscript Into A Paperback
Hugh Howey put together a great video showing his process for laying out the internals of a paperback. His process is similar to my own, very much worth a watch.

How J.K. Rowling Plotted Harry Potter With A Hand-Drawn Spreadsheet
I swore I had posted this before, but I couldn’t find it. So I am including it again. I love process and comparing process, it’s interesting to see how different authors approach their notes to a story. J. K. Rowlings attention to detail is fantastic. (Thanks to Lola for reminding me of this.)

Old Broken Road Giveaway
You can enter to win one of five signed copies of Old Broken Road (and some other stuff) on Goodreads. Signing up to win is easy. Winners will be notified January 6th. In the meantime, buy a copy for friends or family.

How Facebook Changes For 2015 Could Affect Authors
Good write up from Edie Melson regarding the changes coming to Facebook next year. It doesn’t matter if your traditional or indie, odds are you use Facebook to reach readers. It’s good to be up on what’s coming.

Poetic Dogs by Dan Bannino
Handsome dogs that look like famous poets. IT’S WRITING RELATED. STOP GIVING ME THAT LOOK!


Mari Lwyd – The Zombie Christmas Horse
Scary Little Christmas is a fantastic blog I discovered over the past week. It is a place to learn about the strange holiday traditions from around the world. In this case, we have the Welsh tradition of the Gray Mare.

Lovecraft-Inspired Gift Guide
Looking for a gift for the mythos enthusiast on your list? I have assembled a handy gift guide that includes books, games, music, and more!

Style Guide: The Looks That Made Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks is coming back, and what better way to celebrate than by assuming the style of your favorite character?

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Electric Executioner
“As the train rattled onward through the night I saw a subtle and gradual metamorphosis come over the expression of the staring man. Evidently satisfied that I was asleep, he allowed his face to reflect a curious jumble of emotions, the nature of which seemed anything but reassuring. Hatred, fear, triumph, and fanaticism flickered compositely over the lines of his lips and the angles of his eyes, while his gaze became a glare of really alarming greed and ferocity. Suddenly it dawned upon me that this man was mad, and dangerously so…”

Gif of the Week: