Ten Years of Complete Victory!

Dandelion Iron Cover - February2016This is the last of my meditations on ten years of writing.

Well, that’s not exactly true. Next week, on the RMFW blog, I’m going to be posting “TEN YEARS OF LESSONS ON WRITING. So, yeah. But this is where I go through my successes.

I talked about failures yesterday, and I was kind of vague because I didn’t want to linger there. I’ve lingered there long enough. And I will change my thinking. I have to. So, here are my very real, very epic successes. If I don’t celebrate my little successes, I won’t celebrate the big ones.

Let me say that again, for me, to change my thinking. If I don’t celebrate my little successes, I won’t celebrate the big ones. And if I take that one step further…if I don’t see my little successes as complete victories, I won’t see my big successes in that light either.

So. Here is a list of my complete victories!

  1. I only have three unfinished projects. Every other book I’ve started I’ve finished. This is huge. This is amazing. This is epic. And even more? I’ve edited most of those projects, and I’m not huge on that whole editing thing. I’ve written well over a dozen books in the past ten years. Every book is a victory as grand as blowing up the Death Star. All three times.
  2. I have over a hundred rejections. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not very many. For me? For someone with my level of fear and self-loathing? It is an epic victory. It is Pelennor Fields. It truly is.
  3. I have had four editors choose to spend their life’s minutes on my books. I say the publishing industry has ignored me. That is NOT true. Four people, with death looming, chose me to work on. This is amazing. Out of all the writers writing, me. These are four victories rolled up into mine.
  4. I have three published books. I have three ISBNs.
  5. I was a finalist in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s Gold Contest in their very competitive young adult category.
  6. My daughter and I were reading one of the books I’d written for her together. We were going slow. One day, she came to me, ashamed, because she couldn’t wait for us to read it together. She had to find out how the story ended. This, my friend, is a victory. My daughters don’t automatically love my books. And for her to be so swept into the story she had to read it, well, if that’s not enough for me…what ever will be? The praise and adulation of strangers? Huh.
  7. At a first chapter workshop in Big Sur, a woman was reading the first chapter of The Never Prayer. She started to cry. She looked up at me and I saw such a depth of emotion there, I started to cry too. It’s been said authors live on the tears of their readers. That should keep me going for the duration.
  8. I auditioned and was chosen to be a part of a critique group of highly decorated authors: Jeanne C. Stein, Mario Acevedo, Warren Hammond. This was huge! Huge!
  9. I won a horror short story contest online for a story called “Deep Woods, True Story”. It was my first win of any sort of writing contest where I wasn’t involved in the voting!
  10. I was invited to be the Emcee at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference three years in a row. Again, I can’t tell you how much of a huge deal this was. I got to rub shoulders with Bonnie Hagan, M.B. Partlow, Chris Mandeville, Sue Mitchell, Jason Henry and a bunch of other wonderful people. I had a such a lovely time at the conference and I loved the audience. This was a big deal. It really was.
  11. The entire 2013 year was hard on me. February 2014, I got my first Kirkus Review for Long Live the Suicide King. It was glowing. I needed it. When I opened up the website to first read it, I squinted, looking for keywords in the sentences. If I saw bad words I was going to shut my eyes completely. If I saw good words, I’d read every one. and I did. It was glowing.
  12. Long Live the Suicide King was a finalist in the Reader’s Favorite Young Adult contest. And I got a five-star review, awesome, and it was great to be a part of that organization. I didn’t win, but I got a sticker to put on the front cover of the book!
  13. Long Live the Suicide King won the Building the Dream Young Adult contest. I am an award-winning author thanks to Kris Tualla, Deena Remiel, Morgan Kearns and the rest of the gang. Thanks for bringing me in.
  14. In July of 2014, Peter J. Wacks called me. We had just published our G.I. story, Post-Traumatic Stress Commander and it was number one in Kindle Worlds. I had an official Amazon bestseller.
  15. In the fall of 2015, I got a basket full of fan letters for Elizabeth’s Midnight. I answered them. Fan mail. How cool is that? While Elizabeth’s Midnight hasn’t performed well, it’s a book I love. And my parents liked it the best out of all my books. It’s a victory.
  16. Quincy J. Allen picked “The Dirges of Percival Lewand” for The Best of the Penny Dread Tales published through WordFire Press. It’s one of his favorite stories. And that story really solidified my name in the local writer community in Colorado. I wasn’t just pretty, but I was talented too. That story really did well for me, and I love it so.
  17. Quincy J. Allen insisted several people nominate “The Dirges of Percival Lewand” for a Hugo. So I am a Hugo-nominated author. Ha! I used that for a while.
  18. Getting into WordFire Press with The Juniper Wars series really felt like a victory. And not just one book, but six. Six books of what I love to write. The books of my heart. I was at a Superstars Writing Seminar and I mentioned I was at WordFire Press. Someone muttered, in awe, “Wow, you must be good.” Dang straight I am.
  19. One of my reviewers who read KILLDEER WINDS, the second book in The Juniper Wars series, said she ugly cried. Now, that, right there, is worth the price of admission.
  20. Ron Cree gave me one of the best reviews of my life for his review of The Never Prayer. When he read Dandelion Iron, the first book in the series, he said, and I quote, “Your other books were good, but this one, this one..”
  21. In 2015 I got a story in Hex Publishing’s Nightmare’s Unhinged. It was the story I’d won for the horror story contest. We decided on a different title. “Deep Woods.” I got to do a signing at the Tattered Cover with a bunch of other writers. It felt like the big time!
  22. I got a story in Hex Publishing’s noir anthology as well. At this point, the story is called “Shoe” and I love it.
  23. While working with Vivian Trask on the first two Juniper Wars books, she said that Cavatica Weller sounded like her when she was a sixteen-year-old Catholic girl. A total victory.
  24. My daughter just finished reading the third book in The Juniper Wars series. She texted to me, and I quote: OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD. I’M AT THE PART WHERE ….SPOILERS … AND I JUST LOVE THIS BOOK!  And there you have it.
  25. All the praise. All the tears. All the laughter of the people who have read my books. Every reader who finishes a book is a victory. I spent a lot of time writing books people couldn’t read.

I’m sitting in the Salt Lake City airport, on my way home from a writer’s retreat where I won the coveted Edward M. Kovel Prize for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.

I love airports. I live travel and adventure. I am so blessed to be on this quest to make it as a writer. That I get to do this, at all, is a miracle.

Travis Heermann interviewed me for his blog, and he asked which character in literature do I most resemble. Bilbo Baggins.

In the end, I’m Bilbo Baggins. Really, I wanted to stay in my hobbit hole, eat lots of donuts, and watch lots of TV. And suddenly, this adventure has been thrust upon me.

The dragon Smaug awaits in his mountain. I have many obstacles ahead, but I must slay the dragon. And the dragon isn’t the mean ol’ world of publishing, and it’s not bad book sales, and it’s not literary obscurity.

The dragon lives inside my head and I am the beast I must fight.

But I don’t think I can slay the dragon.

In the end, I think I must become the dragon and bathe the world in my fire.

Ten Years of Failure

Let’s say ten years ago I went to medical school. To become a brain surgeon.

Well, ten years later, most likely I’d be a brain surgeon.

Or a special forces merc bent on revenge?

Ten years later, I’d have my revenge and a story to tell.

Ten years later, in my writing career, I have three published books, a contract for six more, an award, some short stories, and fifteen minutes of fame on Amazon as a dubious bestseller.

My publishing business is not self-supportive.

If I had to rely on my writing to pay the bills, I would be living in Quincy J. Allen’s basement, eating all of his bearclaws and smoking all of his cigars.

I really thought I could smooze my way to the top. I have good friends who are agents and editors, but they have all said they will do anything for my career. Except, I can’t give them a book they think they can sell. Well, dang, skippy, that is just depressing.

My Amazon ranking, is, um, even more depressing.

At times, I feel like people read my books and leave nice reviews to be nice. Behind my back, they are saying, “Poor Aaron. He tries hard. But he’s just not there yet. Yes, I’ll go to his dumb book launch party, and yes, I’ll buy a book, but when is he going to learn?”

I just wrote a story where that’s what the people say about an artist, struggling to break out. Even worse, the artist’s little sister, who may or may not be real, says the same thing. The artist is Big Sue. The sister is Little Say. Because she doesn’t have much to say. Only the same thing, over and over.

When are you going to give up because this obviously is never going to work out for you?

I don’t have an agent. I’ve only been published in small houses. I’ve not received an advance. My work hasn’t been translated into a variety of exotic languages. I don’t have an audio book.

I was going to count exactly how many rejections I have, but I really want to get back to editing SASS MCQUEEN AND THE KUNG-FU PRINCESS! Aiiiiiiaa! So I’ll do a rough guestimate…

The Severed Earth = 3

The Storybook, the Turner Brothers, and Eli Kane = 1

Long Live the Suicide King = 5

Elizabeth’s Midnight = 20

Flung = 1

The September King = 1

The Never Prayer = 50

Sparked = 10

In Too Deep = 5

Dandelion Iron = 13

Various Short Stories = 25

That’s roughly 114 rejections. Of various shapes and sizes. It’s a million near misses. I’ve had big-time agents in closed rooms going over my work, arguing about its merits. And the answer? No.

In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t even really trying. It’s not. Ray Bradbury had something like eight hundred rejections before he published ANYTHING. Stephen King filled nails in and then spikes with his rejections. Kevin J. Anderson once won a contest among his writer friends because he had the most rejections. Not, like, by a little. By, like, hundreds if not thousands.

And notice, many of the books I’ve written and polished I didn’t query at all, or queried only once.

I could argue time. I could argue I had small children. I could argue that I wanted to perfect my craft. I could argue all of those things. The real answer?

I’m afraid. Not was afraid. Am afraid. I hate it. I don’t want to do it. And part of me, since I have my own Indie press, thinks I can be done with this. But that, for me, is a cowardly answer.

I have at least ten short stories, polished and ready, languishing in the dungeon of my computer. They are not being shopped. Nothing is going on there.

So on my writer’s retreat, we’ve been playing these massive board games at night, and when I play them, I don’t play to win. I play not to embarrass myself. I come up with little strategies, but it’s more for my own entertainment than anyone else. And so I don’t embarrass myself.

I’m playing the writing game the same way. Any little strategy I have is half-thought out and not something I truly embrace. Because in the end, I don’t really want to play the writing game. I want to write. And I have. And I will continue to write. I have a small set of fans who like my stuff. I like my book launch parties so I’ll continue to do them even if Steve and Melissa Jankowski are the only ones who show. And Tony Freeburg.

But the real game here is not the writing game. It’s my fear. It’s my thinking.

I like the idea of me being a tragic failure. I like the nihilism of the tragedy. I embrace it. I tell myself, over and over, that I am a B+ writer. Sure, I’m better than most. But the “A” club? Nope. Not me. Not ever me.

Not. Ever. Me.

So I either play to lose or I don’t play at all.

So in a very real, very economic sense, I have failed at the writing game. I have and continue to embarrass myself by trying.

Yes, I’ve had little successes, and we’ll talk about them tomorrow. Because notice, this is near the end of my week of reflection. This is the dark moment. For the sagging middle, check out my blog post yesterday about all the books I’ve read and written. Ha. No one read that mofo.

So this is the dark moment. This is the time of tragedy. I will gnash my teeth in the darkness.

But if I don’t change my thinking, I might not quit writing, but I will continue to embrace the tragedy of my failures with relish and ignore my successes. This will lead to my eventual obliteration.

If I don’t change my thinking, I will continue to fail because I like it. And I do things I like. I’m funny that way.

A little story. Chris LeDoux is a country music singer who spent his youth on the rodeo circuit. He won a huge reward, and he did well, but he was also a singer-songwriter. So he started recording his songs and selling them independently at rodeos. He did this for twenty years.

And guess who would buy them? Garth Brooks. And Garth Brooks loved Chris LeDoux. Wasn’t long and Chris Ledoux got a big business contract and shot up the charts.

Twenty years.

I have another ten.

But only, only, only if I can change my thinking.

Wish me luck.

 

 

 

 

Ten Years of Books

Ten Years of Books

Books. One of the casualties for me in this business is that reading has become a chore. Most of the time. I don’t read what I want to read, I read what I should.

And yet, I’ve gotten to read some great books in the past ten years. Topping off the list is definitely Robert Hough’s The Final Confession of Mabel Stark. It’s the fictionalized biography of a real life female lion tamer who worked the circus back in the 20’s and 30’s. How did I stumble upon such a wonderful book? I used to read all the books of the people who went to writer’s conferences. So I was introduced to this book, Jodi Thomas (who writes books you want to live in), and others.

Some were great! Warren Hammond’s KOP series is amazing. Jeanne C. Stein knows how to write fights scenes better than anyone in her Anna Strong Chronicles, and Mario Acevedo uses a blender of hilarity in his Felix Gomez books. Kendall Grey took Mario’s blender, filled it full of heavy metal and pornography, and used it for her Hardrock Harlots series, which are the pornography of rage. No one under eighteen admitted.

On a completely different note from Kendall Grey’s Killer Buzz Float, I read Jerry Spinelli, Maniac McGee and Stargirl. Loved ‘em. I finished Stephen King’s The Dark Tower books. My favorite! I finally read all of ERB’s Tarzan books. Um, yeah. They helped me sleep.

So yes, I read books I never would’ve picked up because me being a writer means me being a reader, and sometimes the “should” is a good thing. I’ve read more in the past ten years than I would’ve if I had kept on TV.

And sometimes I rebel. I have a big thick omnibus of the works of Richard Brautigan. Brautigan doesn’t really write novels, he writes Brautigans, kind of poetry, kind of not, not a lot of story, but so beautiful.

I snuck away and read Atlas Shrugged, which was naughty of me. It’s long. It’s iffy. It says the same thing over and over again. But I loved it.

Dude, I read Lonesome Dove! Dang, skippy. One of my favorite books ever, in the history of ever.

I was asked to blurb a book, and though I’m always a little skeptical, I read Dead, Yet Dying by B.K. Brain. I was electrified! Hells yeah, I’ll put my name on that book!

I went back and read some of the great literature I’d missed. I read John Updike’s Rabbit series. Awesome. I read the short stories of John Cheever. Even more awesome. I read Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn and that was the most awesomest!

And to get more books in me, I joined Audible and I listen to books. I listened to FIGHT CLUB. Best book ever. I listened to A Confederacy of Dunces. Best book ever. I listened to Ready Player One. Best book ever, but only because of the 2112 reference.

So yeah, I’ve experienced some great literature in the past years.

But I wanted to talk about some of the books I wrote. A little hidden bibliography.

So let’s recap. I started my first novel in spring of 1994. The Dream of the Archer (150K words). I basically finished it by the time I got married in spring of 1997. I then launched my epic sci-fi fantasy trilogy, The Gospel of the Severed Earth (500K words) made up of three books: Everywhere, Everything, Everyone. I finished that roughly in 2004.

So by 2002, I had four novels and I’d written about 650,000 words. Written and revised, revised, and revised. I didn’t query. I didn’t tell anyone. Only Steve Jankowksi, Peter Chittum, Don Bauman, and Becky Hodgkins knew. And my wife.

I’d been writing for eight years.

Then I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I’d been worried I didn’t have a genre, and after reading more of J.K. Rowling’s masterpiece, I decided I’d write books for the younger audience. Yes. I could write across genres. I would call them all Young Adult or Middle Grade. I’d make it, baby! I’d make it!

I wrote The Storybook, The Turner Brothers, and Eli Kane. It was long. It had a long title. It was a portal fantasy. It was the very clichéd portal fantasy where my characters go into a book. I’d like to think I did some creative things there, but as it turned out, 100K words for a quick little middle grade fantasy was, um, not going to cut it.

I was on a roll. I wrote Summer’s Exile, which is kind of mystery, kind of romance, and kind of middle grade, but not really. It’s a hot mess. Also 100K. I didn’t worry about word count. Books had to be long, right?

In 2005 my second daughter was born, and the nights were endless. Sleep was a lost thing. My first daughter, born in 2002 didn’t sleep, but God wouldn’t do it to us twice, right? He did. While not sleeping ever, I wrote Into the Dream on the Eyelash Shut, which I later re-titled Broken Dreams and Wicked Things because my first daughter talked about broken dreams. It was too good not to use. I was getting faster. This one was only 85K as a word count. That book was about a football star in middle school who gets in a car accident. His little brother dies and he’s paralyzed from the waist down. In a fit of despair, he finds a magic book which takes him to the dream world of Nyx. So, yeah, portal fantasy.

So by January of 2006, I had 650,000 +100,000+100,000+85,000 for a grand total of 935,000 words of books written, revised, revised again. Henry Miller said that a writer had to write a million words before he could sign his/her own name. I was short by 65,000 words. Dammit!

I thought my best, polished book was The Storybook, the Turner Brothers, and Eli Kane, wow, long title, and I took it to the Big Sur Writing Workshop. Laura Rennert explained to me the foibles of my first chapter. It didn’t go well. And my story had five endings. I like endings. I like endings a lot. I like lots of endings.

So, what was I to do? I’d written seven books, but all of them needed to be crafted. I needed to learn how to tell a story. So I took a break from writing and read Robert McKee’s Story and started practicing on short stories. I then read Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat and that taught me how to outline.

Then? I wrote down four ideas and took them to the Evergreen II critique group. We all decided on the top two. Which turned into my suicide book and my grandma book. I hate titles. So I just called them that.

2006-2008 ___ LONG LIVE THE SUICIDE KING – This was the first book on the list my critique group and I agreed upon. And this if the first book I wrote after studying craft. I started reading YA so I could get the voice, and I wrote a draft full of the f-word and how “real” teenagers talked. I had a ton of pop culture references. I sent it out and yeah, got close to a contract with an agent, but in the end, they said no. I always get so close, and I always get so no. I’m learning to be grateful for that. At this stage, a traditional contract might just slow me down. I’m in this to write books. The idea came to me while I was walking to my gym and I passed a yappy dog racing up and down a chain-link fence. They say to write what you know. I know about suicide. Between the yappy dog and my own dark thoughts, the story came to me. I finished it in about 2008. Yeah, the traditional publishing world did slow me down, but back then, well, it was the only game in town.

2007-2008 __ THE SEPTEMBER KING – So I was watching The Lord of the Rings movies, and I wanted to write a mini-epic. The Artemis Fowl series was pitched as Die Hard with fairies, so I wanted to write The Lord of the Rings in your own backyard. It’s a portal series, kind of, where a group of teens are shrunk in size and a mystic realm appears in a mean old lady’s backyard. Denizens of the realm only live for two nights. My tagline is – Would you trade a lifetime of boring days for only two magical nights?

2008-2009 __ ELIZABETH’S MIDNIGHT – This was the second book on the list. Poor Jan Gurney liked my grandma book more than the suicide book, but Diane and I outvoted her. My family in 2008 did a house exchange with a family living outside of Rennes, France, in Brittany, also known as Bretagne. We tourned Saint-Malo and all the medieval cities. It was magical. But the idea for my grandma book actually came in spring of 2006, at the Big Sur Writing Workshop. It was there that I learned the middle grade/young adult market is full of fantasy books. So I had to do something different. I did something different all right. Uh huh. But I love Elizabeth’s Midnight. It was original titled Ladies in Waiting, but I like the new title much better.

2008-2009 __ FLUNG – I tried to start writing books two at a time, one in the morning and one at night when the kids went to bed. So I wrote a book about a kid who teleports, but he has no control and he doesn’t know why. He just appears across the world. It’s kind of a convoluted story, and I have setting issues, and it needs some work. I tried to query, but didn’t have much luck. My first chapter is an alone and thinking chapter. So, yeah, didn’t quite work.

2008-2010 __ THE FOUR KINGDOMS (The Winter Princess, The Spring Princess, The Summer Princess, The Autumn Princess) – So while I wasn’t having any luck with traditional publishing, I decided I’d write books for my daughters. So I wrote a story about four girls from another world who don’t know they are magical princesses until trouble finds them. My eldest illustrated them. I never wanted to try and get them published because they became sacred and I didn’t want to have some editor messing with a story and characters my daughters loved. All four books top out at about 65K I think. They are short. Total chapter books. And our family loves them. Maybe someday. Maybe.

2009-2010 __ THE MAGIC ADDICTS: NO DELIVERANCE – In 2009, our family did a house exchange with a family in Hamburg, and I had this idea of a bunch of teens who were addicted to magic. They go around the world collecting spell components, casting spells, and studying, which involves sitting alone and thinking about the worst things you’ve ever done. You collect up all your resentments and that powers your spells. It’s kind of a convoluted story. Ha. It runs short, so I’d have to add a bunch of words, but at this stage, it’s so back burner, it’s like rice about to burn.

2009-2010 __ ASIYA SIMPKINS AND THE THOUGHSTEALERS – Another book I wrote for my daughter, it’s not really a book, more like a novella, but still, I thought I’d include it. It’s about a girl living in a haunted house, basically, and ghostlike creatures plague her. The thoughtstealers are drawn to people’s idea-chests. Idea-chests are an item you own that you love and it houses your thoughts. If you lose your idea-chest, you lose your soul. My daughter and I came up with the idea and I wrote it. It’s rough. It’s short. It’s, um, not very good. But you know, it was fun to write.

2010-2012 __ THE NEVER PRAYER – So it was at an ACT IV where I talked with an agent who suggested I write an angel book. Angels were going to be the next big thing. So I sat down and banged out an angel book, but mine was going to be different. It was going to be darker and edgier. I called it paranormal romance, but it wasn’t. It was total paranormal thriller with romantic components. Every time I read it I cry. It’s so tragic and beautiful.

2011-2012 __ THE SWEET REVENGE OF THE BAG SNATCHER – This book idea came from a football player’s name. Crabtree. I loved the name. And I wanted to write a kind of classic mystery/horror story about a gang of kids in a small town in the 1970s who open a business finding things for people. But their first client might be the demon terrorizing their town. I don’t like the title, and I don’t like the name of their business, H.A.G., or Hexton’s Acquisitions Group, so I’m thinking about calling it the C.I.A., Crabtree’s Investigations and Acquisitions. Yeah, I like that much better. I wrote it for my daughters. They hated it! I made some changes. They still hated it! But I waited and bam, they love it. It’s for older elementary/middle school. I love it. Not shopped. Yet. It’s my next one to shop around.

2012-2013 __ SPARKED – So before I talk about my epic series, well, I wanted to talk about this book. In December of 2012, I watched all five Twilight movies. I was moved. I sang Christina Perri “Thousand Years.” I was tired of writing weird books that the publishing industry didn’t like. I wanted to write something vanilla, marketable, a pure YA sci-fi romance. Er, yeah, a pure one of those. Instead of vampires or werewolves, I decided I’d do androids. Twilight with androids. Twilight meets Blade Runner. Yes. I wrote it quick, while we were house-sitting in Gratz, Austria. I got the best rejection of my life. An agent at a big literary agency said that the voice was perfect, the structure was classic, but it was too genre. It wouldn’t stick out. Perfect. It is such a victory. I’ll eventually publish this book, as is, but I have a couple of other publishers looking at it. I think the pure vanilla-ness of it baffles them. One publisher who rejected said half the people LOVED it! And half the people HATED it! With no consensus, they rejected me.

2012-2013 __ SASS MCQUEEN AND THE KUNG-FU PRINCESS – it was time to write a book for my youngest daughter, who can be a handful and a harsh critic. We were watching a lot of iCarly at the time, and my daughter loved Sam. I thought, what if I divided up Sam into two characters, one with a mouth and one with fists of fury? And what if I wrote it as this over-the-top Adam Sandler movie type of story? Bam. I’m going to be Indie publishing this one because I don’t want to wait. No. Not waiting anymore. We have a cover. Bree Ervin edited, and really, it’s a love letter to my daughter’s school, which is as good or better than Hogwarts. I want to give this to them before we leave it because it truly is a magical place. My wife and I would go to open houses there and get teary because our lives would’ve been so different if we’d gone to a school like that. And no, the name of the school is Poopenkitten Elementary.

2013-2014 __ BLACK BELLE – So my youngest daughter wanted me to write a werehorse story, but there had to be romance and kissing. So I wrote a quick novella about a girl who moves to a ranch. She meets the town bully. She falls in love with the bully’s boyfriend. A mysterious friend helps her. She discovers a mighty horse who also helps her. SPOILER! And yeah, the mysterious friend is the mighty horse! My oldest daughter hated it! My youngest? We finished and there were tears on her face. And she gulped and said, “That is the best book I’ve ever read.” Bam. And if that is not enough for me, well, shame on me. Jen Greyson, I thought of you while writing about this book. I don’t know if it will ever see the light of day, but it was fun to write. But come on, Black Belle? As in Black Beauty?

2014-2015 __ IN TOO DEEP – I grew up watching The Young and the Restless and All My Children. I love romances. I love rom-com movies and yeah, so what? I’m still a man, though my first penname isn’t going to broadcast that. At this stage, I’m going to be making my debut with Andrea K. Stein as Taylor Stone. Stein & Stone romances. Andrea and I are co-writing a romance series. We are going to Indie Pub. And this might be the only place where I’ll publicly say I am Taylor Stone! Maybe. The first book is about a disgraced celebrity chef accused of poisoning people and a sea captain who keeps losing million-dollar yachts on an ill-fated pleasure cruise. What is the last thing you want when trying to save your career? You don’t want to fall in love.

2010-2016 __ THE JUNIPER WARS (Dandelion Iron, Killdeer Winds, Thorn Sisters, Bindweed Highway) – I was biking, listening to 16 Horsepower and thinking about old Kung-Fu movies where brothers end up fighting each other. And I wanted to write a sci-fi/western. And I wanted it to be epic! I was never going to write it until I watched Joss Whedon’s Firefly. I wept through every episode. This is what I wanted to write. These are the books of my heart. If I’m going to make a stand, if I’m going to pour every cent, every bit of energy I have into a project, it’s this one. So help me God.

So at this stage, these are all the books I’ve written. Some are longer than others.

The Dream of the Archer

The Gospel of the Severed Earth (Everywhere, Everything, Everyone)

The Storybook, the Turner Brothers, and Eli Kane

Summer’s Exile

Broken Dreams and Wicked Things

The September King

Long Live the Suicide King

Elizabeth’s Midnight

Flung

The Four Kingdoms

The Magic Addicts: No Deliverance

Asiya Simpkins and the Thoughtstealers

The Never Prayer

The Sweet Revenge of the Bag Snatcher

Black Belle

Sparked

Sass McQueen and the Kung-Fu Princess

In Too Deep (as Taylor Stone)

THE JUNIPER WARS (Dandelion Iron, Killdeer Winds, Thorn Sisters, Bindweed Highway)

That’s a total of twenty-five books.

Not bad for a start. Not bad at all.

I feel so lucky to have been given the room and motivation in my life to write these books and to love these characters.

This is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. For a guy like me, this is how I should be spending my minutes.

End of blog post here.

It was a good ending. It hit all the right notes.

But I wanna talk about the abandoned projects.

Abandoned projects? Well, not, I won’t say abandoned. I will say that it’s gonna be a while until I circle around to them.

HARD CANDY EYESHADOW – This is my gay YA paranormal romance epic. A suicidal cowboy poet, a self-destructive gay teen, and a wiccan priestess who is also a recovering drug addict have a kind of love triangle. With a ghost. Confused? You won’t be. After this week’s episode of Soap. This was number three on the list that I created in 2006 with my critique group.

THE BLOOD OF THE SEVEN – It’s Hogwarts for teen drug addicts. Seven struggling teenagers are invited to a magic school but the principal has a secret reason for drawing them all together. Forbidden love.

ONE LAST WEDNESDAY – A geeky teen guitarist in a lame progressive rock band trio  is told he has a rare heart condition that has gone undiagnosed. He has 54,000 heartbeats left. That’s twelve hours if your heart rate is seventy-five beats per minute. He has twelve hours to find love, come to grips with his parents, and for one last epic gig. One last Wednesday. I wanna write it from the perspective of a forty-year old music critique who did an award-winning article on the teenager.

Wow. Only three lost projects.

Hmm. Only three.

Not bad, son. Not bad at all.