George R. R. Martin is known for a slow writing pace, clocking in at six books in 28 years. The Postal Marine Series is competing at two books in 14 years. At the same time, Randy Ingermanson talked about writing an alternative history series for years without any sign of life until April. His Crown of Thorns series finally launched in April 2020.
I’ve been very quiet over the past couple of years, judging from the dearth of blog posts in 2018 and 2019. Scintilla was originally released in 2011, and Bellicose in 2014. Since then, I completed a first draft of Luctation in 2014 and started Imbroglio that year. Imbroglio is where the entire series started circa 2006. All told, the Postal Marine series has languished for 14 years with only two of the first four planned books finished and released.
What have I done since 2014? It’s funny to me that I did most of my prolific writing in what amounts to a basement hallway. Moving to a proper office in 2014, and changing houses in 2017 have not fueled my creative efforts. In 2015, I thought I was going to restore a car. In other words, have I moved on in practice if not in mind?
Editorial Shock. Of the people who have read Bellicose and reached out to me, the message is universal: “Where is Book 2?” Its original sales in Summer & Fall 2014 did more than break even. This despite zero marketing and no professional editing. I had a flash of success and money to pay an editor. I sent my book to a developmental editor in November 2014 who recommended some heavy changes to the book. Either I did not accept the feedback, or it just hurt. I’m not here to psychoanalyze, but to give an update. Where the heck have I been for six years?
The Star Wars saga nearly never got launched. George filmed a messy piece, and his wife edited it to the greatness that it became. The prequels shows George when left to his own devices. I doubt they would have survived without the brand following…or the Disney follow-ups. This is the lesson I have to teach myself: that a book is saved by its editor.
Education. From January 2019 through April 2020, I obtained a Masters of Technology Management at George Mason. That accounts for a little more than a fifth of the time. The program had brief breaks in May, August and December but otherwise consumed a lot of my free time. When I completed my Bachelor’s in 2002, I looked at this program only to be redirected at a law degree by a mentor. I would say this is a good program for someone early mid-career. But, I am late career. It would have been perfect for me in the mid-2000s, but not now.
New Series. In August 2019, during my brief Summer break at GMU, I started roughing the idea for a new series. It is an alternative history fantasy that will require a fair amount of research to be historically accurate enough. I tinkered with this through December 2019, then shifted focus to finishing the degree. While working on this series, I was reminded of the importance of finishing what I started with Postal Marines. I really look forward to getting back to this series.
Toolchain. I’ll write a separate series on this at some point. But, I have gone back-and-forth through many ways of writing over the past 16 years. Over the past year, my toolchain automation has matured. I am nearly to the point where I can share what I’m using for others. The problem is I can waste countless evenings and weekends making a perfect toolchain. Or, I can just write.
Where am I now?
First, I am focused back on Postal Marines. Since Bellicose needed a revision, I tweaked Scintilla and sent it off to a line editor I have been
stalking following over the past three of four years. I finished the Bellicose revision in June. One thing I kept trying to do with Postal Marines is fix what was written. I assumed a massive overhaul was required. As I read through Scintilla, I liked what I read and pulled out what was too much. The same thing happened with Bellicose. I finished both of those thinking I’m not a half-bad writer. With a good editor, I’m comfortable it will all clean up nicely.
Future of the Postal Marines
My grand ambition is to finish the first four books of the series. They have covers already (and I’ve lost contact with my cover artist), and they are well plotted. I have 12 other novels mapped out, but not plotted.
- May-June: Tweaked Scintilla and sent to my editor
- May-June: Finished Bellicose rewrite
- July-October: Finish Luctation second draft
- October-March: Write Imbroglio, work edits for Bellicose and Scintilla
- March-October: Work edits for Luctation and Imbroglio.
- By October 2021: Release all four books at once.
Once all books are in distribution, then I will actively market them. If they do well, then I will look at the other 12 books in the franchise. But, I would also like to write the first tranche of books in my other series.